Song Stories III – Winter Is Over
Recently I shared with my nephew of the story behind Winter is Over. And as we enter the winter of 2017/2018……it feels we are entering a VERY cold season here in the Fraser Valley of BC. And so maybe it is a bit weird to tell the story of Winter is Over…as winter is only beginning!! But I am going to write about it anyways.
I notice that when I share a story with someone and there is a lot of energy around the memory that I have the motivation to write it down. Life distracts me from the discipline of writing, but moments like these pull me back as they remind me of this commitment to record these memories and stories.
When I wrote the song, Winter is Over, I was in a season of pain and it seemed long. Really long. Would there ever be a season where I would be able to stop crying? One day as I knelt in prayer with a friend, they quoted from the Song of Songs…winter is over and the time for singing has begun.
I didn’t FEEL that winter was over at all. However, the call to SING even in the midst of winter spoke to me. Could I sing now? Could I dare to express my heart through sound? I was leading evenings of sung prayer in the Fraser Valley of BC and the songs we were singing together had changed my life. Songs from the Taize community held these little gems of truth that I loved to share with others. I considered Brother Roger, the founder of Taize, my spiritual father. I still do. He held a wide vision for creating community space for prayer and song and using simple thoughts/expressions to convey deep truths.
One day as I rested a melody formed in me with the words I had heard from my friend; The winter, long winter, is over. Sing.
I sang this over and over again as I drove around, washed dishes, swept the floor. One day as I turned left while driving, a field of grass caught my eye. I began to think of how grass is so powerful, rising even through concrete. It is so strong and yet so tender. I began to reflect on the love I had tasted in my deepest pain. It was a profoundly tender love. And yet it was wildly strong, penetrating the deepest cavities of my heart. The song grew. It formed a shape, a rhythm, a flow. It captivated me and blossomed. It became alive.
During one evening of sung prayers, I decided to share this new song in the middle of the service. It was one of the first original songs I ever shared publicly. I was very nervous, but somehow the song was like a living creature inside of me, desiring to be expressed and realized. And so I shared it. And it touched many people’s hearts. As I approached my first recording later that year, Rest…inspirations from Taize (2006), Winter is Over became part of the set list. As I sang it in the studio, I experienced one of the most joyful and magical moments of my life up until that time.
A few years later, in the early part of 2011, I was moving towards my first solo album, Love Shines. The previous 2 recordings had been financially supported by an organization called Communitas and had been collaborative projects with others. Love Shines was my first album with all of my own songs and one that I had to raise the funds to produce. The song Winter is Over was going to be re-recorded on this album as part of my collection of original tunes. This was a HUGE project for me. I felt very vulnerable and scared. Even though I had great support, I wanted to throw in the towel and forget about it.
Then, as I prepared to quit, I had a dream. In the dream appeared my 8 year old self. This 8 year old self had loved to sing!! Her voice had been silenced for so long. And now it was coming back to life. She reached out her arm to me in the dream and looked right in my eye. She then said one sentence; “Do this for me.” I woke up weeping and carried on with the project.
As we prepared to record I was working with an 8 year old student at the time, Rebecca Sichon, the daughter of Boris Sichon who has been a very close friend and percussionist for me for over 10 years. I realized I wanted Rebecca to sing on this album, especially in the song Winter is Over. Rebecca’s voice would represent the part of me that had come in my dream. It would be the child and me singing together – proclaiming the truth of my soul.
And so she did. In a very magical and beautiful way. And together, Rebecca and I performed that song many times in the days, weeks and months that followed.
After the recording I received one more dream of my child self. She came to me again, this time glowing with joy. Again, she reached out and said; “thank you.”
To tell the full story, I must share about one other dream. As the Love Shines project got closer to completion, I had another moment of utter panic and fear. I again wanted to quit and hide. This time, my 80 year old self showed up in the dream. She was wild, fierce and a truth-teller. She too looked right at me and said one sentence. Her words rattled my bones; “you are going to have to face me one day.” I realized in that moment I was worrying about what other people would think of me rather than what my soul was asking me to do. My ‘crone’s’ fierceness gave me the courage I needed to let go of other’s opinions and be faithful to the task at hand. I completed the project.
There are many, many more stories of what happened right as Love Shines was released. But those stories will have to wait for another writing!
It seems we all have ‘winters’ in our lives. Season that are barren, difficult and with harsh conditions.
May you know the blessing of singing even IN your winter.
May you know the beauty of tender and strong love IN your suffering.
May you know the hope that spring always comes.
With all my heart, Cathy