I am constantly in search of a soundtrack for life. This is not news to those of y’all who know me. I often think in song lyric snippets, categorizing life under appropriate song titles (i.e. this is a Patty Griffin’s Heavenly Day kind of afternoon, or a David Wilcox Everything is Holy Now sort of moment). Life, at least for me, is best lived when set to music.
I have been getting to know the Avett Brothers lately. We have been spending a lot of quality time together during my 60 miles of daily driving between the cozy house on Ripley Street in Columbia and good old Westminster College. My daily drive is quite lovely--winding roads, country landscapes, old barns, grazing horses. It’s the kind of drive that prompts you to think and reflect. There is space during these drives to truly listen--listen for the subtle thoughts you’ve been unaware of all day because of your busy running from meeting to meeting, listen for an instinct or impulse that’s been working its way to your conscious awareness, listen for wisdom, listen for something outside of yourself.
It was in the midst of my listening, while driving to work on a Tuesday morning--the sun streaming through the car windows, the green of late Missouri summer dominating my view-- that I first heard my vocational theme song. The song that with every word says yes, this is why I do what I do.
It was brought to me courtesy of my new friends and commute companions, the Avett Brothers.
“If you’re loved by someone, you’re never rejected/decide what to be and go be it/
There was a dream and one day I could see it/like a bird in a cage I broke in and demanded that somebody free it/and there was a kid with a head full of doubt/so I’ll scream ‘till I die and the last of those bad thoughts are finally out/
There’s a darkness upon you that’s flooded in light/and in the fine print they tell you what’s wrong and what’s right/and it flies by day and it flies by night/and I’m frightened by those who don’t see it.”
I am called to serve the church, I am called to lead God’s people, I am called to ministry, because I believe, with my whole heart, there is enough love, enough light, enough hope for us all.
I believe there are those in desperate need of this love, this light, and this hope.
I know, with all of my being, that it’s my call, my privilege, my gift, to take part in the work of sharing the love of a deeply compassionate, fiercely welcoming, inherently redemptive God.
Most days I still cannot believe it is actually my job to find those places of “darkness,” those "kids" with “heads full of doubt” about their own worth, their own beauty, their own value and to “scream (or preach, or teach, or affirm) ‘till I die and the last of those bad thoughts are finally out.”
So thank you Avett Brothers--thank you for keeping me company each and every day and thank you for gifting me with a long awaited, ever elusive, vocational theme song, for reminding me just why I do what I do.
Now my loves, I pass their wise charge on to you: “decide what to be and go be it” (and then find the vocational theme song that goes along with it).