Today I met a stranger…well, she was a stranger to me, but somehow I was not a stranger to her. Sharon had somehow been introduced to my music and knows it well. She has shared my music in circles with others as she has shared from her own heart. Our lives were connecting even though I didn’t know it. For me to hear Sharon’s stories today about how the music of my heart had connected so deeply with her was a grace received. I will never know the impact of living my life – and you will never know the impact of living yours. But the simple truth is that we all touch each other. One of the songs that has been significant to Sharon is the ‘rise up’ song from the Love Shines album. So, today I told her a portion of this story about where the song came from. I’ve begun to write many stories of transformation from the past 16 years and this is one of them that will be published sometime in 2015. Thank you Sharon today for your encouragement, your sparkling eyes, your stories, your new friendship.
RISE UP Story Rise Up YOUTUBE
When I was a child, my mother taught me a love for the woods. Living in Harrison Hot Springs for the first 10 years of my life, I lived close to forest, mountain and lake. I was terrified of what may be in those dark woods, my vivid imagination saw the possibility of bears and cougars. But my mother was not. She was fearless and focused on gathering the beauty of the woods in ferns, moss, pussy willows, and other greenery. In my 30s I discovered that I loved the woods as my mother had as I explored the paths near my home in Mission BC. They became a safe place for me. I walked and walked in these woods captivated by the beauty surrounding me. Even, and perhaps especially, when life seemed out of control, I would find wisdom, solace, and comfort in the deep of the woods. I found that all of life was represented in this place….and it was all beautiful. Even death was beautiful in the woods. Each part contributed to the whole and this place of profound beauty became my second home, my sacred safety, my sanctuary.
It was this place that I came to one day when I was in a great deal of distress. I was dealing with a long-term situation that was very painful to me and I was trying my best to manage, but at times I didn’t know if I could survive. I couldn’t talk freely about this situation and so often I felt alone with my pain. At times, it simply felt too much to bear.
And so I found myself curled up at the base of a large tree in a hidden spot in the woods. I wept there. Overwhelmed, in pain and burdened. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a very large stick. It was about 9 feet tall. I felt that stick call to me to pick it up. And so I dragged myself up out of my fetal position and went and picked up the stick. I began to walk with this stick.
We began a rhythm, my stick and I. It was strong and powerful and majestic. And then these words began to flow around me and through me, ‘rise up woman, rise up’. With tears now flowing in a fresh and healing stream down my face, I began to join in this song I heard to rise. I knew in that moment I had a choice of how to live. I could see myself as a victim, or I could rise into the life that Divine Love was inviting me into. I could still choose LIFE. That day, I chose LIFE….and received the grace that LIFE also chose me and wanted me to live.
It was several years later that I heard a woman speak who later became my close friend. She spoke on the story from the gospels of Jesus healing a bent over woman. She explained how radical it was for Jesus to invite this woman into the forbidden circle of men. How it was against the law for a man to look at a woman, talk to a woman, touch a woman. But in this story, Jesus demonstrates the passion of Divine love for us all, even those of us who have felt on the outer edges of belonging. But the interesting part of the story is that the woman has to respond. She has to dare to come into that circle and take her new place in the community. She has to dare to believe and receive the grace being offered.
I realized as I heard Elsie share, that this bent over woman was me. That day, Elsie became a new friend in my life and I realized that the song that had begun that day in the woods was a story song yet to be fully realized. The song of the bent over woman. The song of rising again. The song fully unfolded and has become a song I have shared over and over again. I have sung it with a full choir behind me in a big auditorium and alone on a tree stump before an audience of 10 in the deep woods of Squamish. I have sung it to myself in a bathroom stall when I again found myself bending over in a difficult conversation and I ran to the bathroom to pray. I have sung it at retreats, churches, concerts and have been so moved with how this song has become other people’s song as well.
Through singing this song over the past few years, I have realized there isn’t a one- time rising. It is a lifetime of saying yes to the grace of invitation. The invitation to RISE and fully become is ever present before me. My fears, my anxieties hold me back at times from the fullness of how Divine Love sees me. Divine Love is inviting us over and over to live, and to live fully. To Rise. To blossom. To be the full expression of what we are created to be. This is the gift of being human. And this is the glory of God.