Griffith Head@Reid State Park near Georgetown, Maine photo by mjh+2019
While I’m mostly being quiet offline and staying near to home for a much-needed sabbath, my sacred emptied cup of time in July is being refilled to overflowing with music. After a full year of navigating through multiple transitions of beloved ones coming and going, I’m discovering how much my world-weary introverted soul thirsts for deep rest and reflection.
Through it all, as a daily prayer practice since March, I’ve slowly been pulling together the sound-waves of sacred hymns and love songs across six decades. The fruit of these daily prayers have now grown into an eight-part playlist called Songs for the Way of Love+ Each “album” has a theme: Longing, Miracles, Truth, TruthNow, Hope, Promise, Home, and Imagine.
…As it is for all of us… and as I intentionally make time to be still and relearn these tunes by heart… the soundtracks of our lives continue to soothe and inspire, much as the psalms have for thousands of years. Singing our best songs, together or in solitude, aids us in praying with and for each other. I’m learning from my kids that some of the best music of our times is being created right now and it is being shared in energizing new ways. It makes my heart glad and hopeful to learn these brilliantly stirring songs by heart too.
….As I immerse myself in the music of our times… I deeply remember who I was longing for when I first sang these songs. As I read more deeply into the history of each song and singer, I’m slowly understanding who belongs next to each other in the flow of ever-changing seasons within the continuum of our own place in time. Each composer/singer/band has a story which they are compelled to tell. When woven together, they are a united force which moves us to keep trying to love one another, time after time after time.
…As the decades roll by… the technology advances even as the songs keep their place in time and in our memories. It’s a bit surreal to watch a YT video of a young rebel rocker in the 60s and then in one click watch them 50 years later accepting a lifetime achievement award. In my own lifetime we’ve moved from American Bandstand, vinyl records, and the AM radio; to the Midnight Special and SNL on broadcast tv; to FM radio in stereo and 8-track/cassette players in cars; to MTV on cable tv and mix tapes; to CDs and Bose speakers; to remastered digital music on iPods wired to our computers/speakers; to earbuds in smartphones; and now to online streaming of vast libraries of music played on wireless speakers at home and in the car via Bluetooth. We’ve moved from singing together in church to roller rinks to school gymnasiums to open meadows to discos to stadiums to concert halls and onward into “the cloud” online. Now, all we have to say is “Siri/Alexa, play my playlist: Longing” and up it pops out of our cloudy universe, through my synched little echo dots of a WiFi stereo, and back into my heart.
I have no idea how it all works, though I do know that with every turn of technology the steady stream of income for musicians and composers is quickly dwindling to a trickle. As our access to more music exponentially increases, the musicians’ royalty income is dramatically decreasing and they have to find other creative ways to earn their living along the way. And yet, the music will not be stopped, for it’s something we can’t not do. It’s stunning how interconnected we all are to the Divine and to each other through our shared love of music and our shared longing for each other across all places and in all times.
We all have our own soundtracks of hymns and songs which carry us along the Way of Love. These are a few of my favorites which have carried me through the best and hardest of times. It does my heart good to listen and share these anthems all together again in new ways. I’ve also added in songs and singers which my dear friends and family have offered up in quiet holy conversations. By design, each song flows with intention into the next in a “no shuffle” zone.
It’s all offered with love as a salty psalter. There are eight “LPs” in the stack contemplating all that is Love and Loss, spanning over sixty years of sacred hymns and love songs with more than a few lamentations and dances added in too. There is much Truth to be told and there are always new albums in the making.
Here’s the first praylist with links to Spotify, YouTube, and AmazonMusic (if you have a favorite “no ads” music-streaming account.) All of the praylists are also posted on my blog linked in the comments below.
Longing: Songs for the Way of Love+
Love and Lament from the late 1960s to mid-1970s
James Taylor – Shower The People
Curtis Mayfield & The Impressions – People Get Ready
Joe Cocker – With a Little Help from My Friends
Kris Kristofferson – Why Me?
Carole King – You’ve Got a Friend
George Harrison – My Sweet Lord
Van Morrison – Moondance
Paul McCartney – Maybe I’m Amazed
Roberta Flack – First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
Noel Paul Stookey – Wedding Song (There is Love)
Crosby, Stills & Nash – Our House
Crosby, Stills & Nash – Suite: Judy Blue Eyes
Roberta Flack / Donny Hathaway – Where is the Love?
Don Mclean – Empty Chairs
Roberta Flack – Killing Me Softly with His Song
Bonnie Raitt / Lowell George – Can’t Find My Way Home
Neil Young – On The Way Home & Tell Me Why
Carole King – I Feel the Earth Move
Marvin Gaye – Let’s Get it On
Bonnie Raitt – Finest Lovin’ Man
Lynyrd Skynyrd – Free Bird
Linda Ronstadt – Tumbling Dice
Kris Kristofferson and Rita Coolidge – We Must Have Been Out Of Our Minds
The Who – Love Reign Over Me
Bonnie Raitt w. CSN – Love Has No Pride
Kris Kristofferson and Rita Coolidge – Help Me Make It Through The Night
CSN – Helplessly Hoping
Linda Ronstadt & Bonnie Raitt – Blowing Away
John Denver – Leaving On A Jet Plane
Norman Greenbaum – Spirit In The Sky
Lynyrd Skynyrd -Simple Man
Bonnie Raitt – Love Me Like A Man
CSN – Carry On
(33 songs: 2 hours and 20 minutes)
Links to Longing: Songs for the Way of Love+
Miracles: Songs for the Way of Love+
Mid-1970s to 2018