Today I am beginning a weekly blog of telling the song stories from the present musical project I am working on. And then I will journey back over the past decade and share stories from each album I have had the privilege of recording. My intention is to write a little more faithfully and share soul stories that many people have asked me to share.
Expressing my heart and my heart’s journey through sound has been a significant element of my life these past few years. I have had the privilege of recording many of these song-stories. And now is the time to share how these songs birthed their way into the world and how they have touched my life and the lives of others.
I’m currently working on a new album; Remain in Love. So, I will start with the songs and stories from this fresh journey. I am in the process of fundraising for this album, so if you’d like to partner with me and know more about this current project, I would be most grateful. You can do that here: Remain in Love Project.
And now….for the first story of Remain in Love
Remain in Love, There is no separation, My home is in You
These are the simple words of a canon I wrote this past year, my first musical ’round song’ and the title track for this new album. 3 phrases. 3 concepts. 3 invitations.
Brother Roger of Taize has been an inspiration for me for the past twenty years and I would also say that he is my spiritual father. One of Brother Roger’s traits was his love for simplicity. He would always pare down his writings into a simple format so that his heart could be expressed clearly to all. There was a child-likeness to Brother Roger because of this simplicity but in that child-likeness was a profound depth and truth that emanated from his words.
This song is simple too. It is so utterly simple. And yet, when I heard it in my heart, it touched me so deeply. I wondered if it was too simple, but with Brother Roger as my inspiration, I trusted it. And so I began to share it in community and have loved hearing others sing these words with me.
This song is about remaining in Love. There is no separation in this Love. It is HOME. How my heart has longed to know what this means over my life journey! How I have yearned to find true intimacy and to know where my HOME of belonging is. I have looked and I have searched …through others, through circumstances, through experiences. But still there remained a hole in my heart.
My heart has always yearned for a deep connection with Divine Love and others.
As a child I knew both a sense of connection and a sense of profound disconnection with Love. The religion that I knew as a child placed a lot of emphasis on ‘right belief’ to know the love of God. I had to say the right prayers and have the right action to be allowed ‘in’. I could know Love ‘if’. This brought a sense of separation and disconnection in my heart. There was so much good intention, but somehow there was something missing.
On the other hand, when I was in nature and experienced moments of beauty with an open and trusting heart ……I tasted a wonder, a delight, a communion….a mystery of connection and Love. In the beautiful town of Harrison Hot Springs, where I spent the first 10 years of my life, it was the majesty of the mountains, the blueness of lake and sky, the deep green of moss and fern in the woods and the still and spacious empty church on Saturday mornings where I attended as a child that I first knew a communion of the soul that called to me later in life.
It was in around my 30th birthday when I went through a severe personal crisis. I was living in Atlanta, GA at the time and was spending a couple of days at a Trappist Monastery in Conyers, GA. I walked the landscape and at one point fell on that red Georgian soil and began to pound my fists into the ground. Longing for intimacy. Longing for home. I had been faithful to the religion of my upbringing, but in this moment, my limited experience of Love through my faith experience was unable to provide for me a path through my crisis. The areas of intimacy and home were now full of pain and in desolation.
I blamed God. I was angry. Why was my life the way it was? Why were things turning out the way they were? I felt that God would judge my situation as bad. I also thought if I was faithful to certain religious beliefs, then I wouldn’t be experiencing what I was experiencing. Things weren’t adding up.
But then, there was a strange curiosity that came over me. I remembered the Love I had known as a child, especially on Saturday mornings in the church when it was still and empty. My job was to dust the the window ledges and pews. My father was the minister of this church and our home was on the same property. I was around 8 years old at the time. I hated dusting! But I loved to play. I would gather dust from all the window sills and then fling the dust cloth into the air as hard as I could. I would watch as the dust became like diamonds in the flow of sunlight streaming through the yellow stain-glassed windows. In these moments, I would sing and dance and experience what I would later call the Presence of Love.
On that Georgian soil, many years later, I remembered the Presence of Love of those Saturday mornings. I decided to ask Love how Love perceived my life, my situation, my anguish. And so I asked. I dared to ask the Beautiful Presence of my Saturday mornings as a child a question…..and in that moment I entered a stillness that frightened me. What if there is no Presence of Love? What if there is no God? What/Who is the Divine? Is there anything there?
And in that moment, I had an experience that I never expected. I heard the sound of laughter. It was like a deep thunder under the earth. It rolled and moved under that Georgian soil. It was wide and deep and full of tenderness, kindness, gentleness and beauty. It held a mystery that was far beyond my thinking abilities. It was the last response in the world I would ever have imagined. I realized I was tasting a Reality that I knew little about.
I then said to the Sound of Laughter; ‘I do not know you. Please teach me.’
That began the 20 year journey of my soul I have been on. And one of the great mysteries of the Presence of Love I have been slow to understand is that…there is NO separation from this Love.
Religion may try to separate me. Guilt may try to separate me. Hurt may try to separate me. Shame may try to separate me.
But……..the truth is…..NOTHING can separate me. I come from Love. Love is our Source. Love is where we came from, who we are, and where we are returning to when this life in my body is complete. I am in Love and Love is in me. It is as Jesus invited us to know….Remain in Me and I in You. The diamond at the core of religion is so often lost.
To understand this way of being – that I am in Love and Love is in me shifts my presence. I’m already HOME. I’m already WHOLE. I’m already in UNION.
The need to reach out and grasp, cling, seek, look, have, attain, acquire….somehow evaporates when I am truly awake to this knowing of BEING in LOVE. And the words of the great mystics somehow ring out a little clearer as in the voice of Julian, ‘All shall be well, All shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.’
Home, the reality of belonging can be found within this Love.
Love finds home in me.
I find home in Love.
When I carry the knowing of this reality, I can become HOME to all I am with, instead of seeking HOME in another. For I am remaining in Love and Love lives within.
There is no separation. Only Love.
This is something I sometimes forget. And I need to be recalled to the truth of this over and over again.
Aligning with Love is the journey I am on and invite others to join me on. Aligning to the truth of Love is the path of transformation and beauty.
Where can I go,
Where Love is not?
Even though I may not see
I may not hear
I may not be aware…
Reflect the mystery
© 2016 Soul Care Poetry & Prayers by Cathy AJ Hardy.