getting to “yes”

i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun’s birthday; this is the birth
day of life and of love and wings: and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any–lifted from the no
of all nothing–human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

e.e. cummings

I woke with these words from e.e. cummings running through my mind. I have two musical settings of this poem that I know well. The first is a complex, modern choral piece by Lloyd Pfautsch which is a vocal arrangement filled moments of complex harmonics mixed in with lovely, deep and strong unison. The other version is an upbeat camp song that my daughter and other youth love to sing, complete with a series of hand motions and ever increasing, frenzied speed as the verses continue.

Both versions seem to provide quite a good metaphor for me this morning.

There is something about these poetic words of e.e. cummings that is so deeply human. Many of us see the divine in the splendor of nature, or the powerful presence that overtakes our senses and leaves us convinced there is something more than merely the touchable, observable world. These are the mountaintop moments that stick with us, that fill our spirits with divine longing to stay in that space where it doesn’t really matter exactly how it all works: it’s enough to feel like it simply is.

And then, we walk back down the mountain, and life resumes.

It seems to me that getting to “Yes” is about what we do in the everyday to respond to that sense of something greater. This brings me back to my musical selections. We can say “Yes” in an ever increasing fury of voice and activity that spins us into a happy exhaustion. Maybe a few of us have done that in our lifetimes. Its great, but it isn’t sustainable. Others of us see and hear the complexity of the “Yes” and wonder if learning the discordant places is worth the power and strength of Unison that eventually will emerge. It can keep us out of the proverbial choir loft, assuming there are plenty of other singers who can do it better or with more ease. The truth is, it takes every voice to get through the discord and harmonics, and it isall the more powerful when diverse and plentiful voices pull together in Unison.

I am heading into the Annual Meeting at my church today, not generally considered a mountaintop moment on the liturgical calendar by most, I realize. But, this past year has been an important one for me to learn something about the divine Yes. Last year, I said yes and was elected to vestry, something I swore I would never do. Church politics had burned me up before in other times and other places. I was terrified of mixing all that “real” of budgets and property and organization with my faith journey, which sometimes felt needed to be tucked up inside and protected. I had every reason to be cautious, too. But, every sense of my being also asked me to leap in faith and say a divine Yes. I took the risk. I have not one regret.

This year has brought me so many opportunities for reflection and growth on my journey of spirit. Not all of those moments occurred over budget spreadsheets and property estimates, nor can I profess my vestry colleagues and I were in divine unison all the time. But, my faith community is accomplishing something together that is greater than the sum of our parts, and I am so grateful to be in the midst of that. It has restored my faith in the Presence which is greater than we are, that allows us to do and be more than we could have asked or imagined. That has changed my own journey of faith in community, and my understanding and experience of the divine constantly working in us and through us in our daily lives.

Now, the ears of my ears are awake. Now, the eyes of my eyes are opened.

About harasprice

Professor of Social Work and Priest in The Episcopal Church, parent, teacher, learner, writer, advocate, and grateful traveller along this journey through life
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