Singing the tough lyrics

For several months now, I have emotionally struggled with the lyrics of two hymns and, oddly, the CPE experience is teaching me to break it down into smaller parts and discover what’s behind that.  One of the things I listed as a part of one of the goals of my learning covenant had to do with that blank spot I’d talked about in my spiritual autobiography.  I said in my learning covenant, “I wish to explore that part of my spiritual autobiography by paying close attention to my feelings in the CPE process and explore where that rubs up against the narratives of my life from that time.”

Here are the two hymns that have given me fits for several months now:

(It’s the 3rd verse that gets me…”Prone to wander, Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I love; here’s my heart, now take and seal it, seal it for thy courts above.”)

Here’s the other one:

(It’s the chorus that gets me here.  “…and he will raise you up, on eagle’s wings, bear you on the breath of dawn; make you to shine like the sun…and hold you in the palm of his hand.”  My first thought is, “I’m not ready to be picked up just yet!” and…dare I say it?  I’m a little skittish of shining like the sun.)

Of course I’m prone to wander.  I wandered away from the church for 20 years!  But so much of what I’ve experienced the last few years is the value of staying put and not emotionally bolting at the first sign of trouble.

I met with my supervisor last week on one of our regularly scheduled meetings.  One of the things we talked about is that I’m clearly shaky at times when I have to talk about my feelings, and how that is a continual growing edge for me.  Somehow we got to talking about hymnody, and I wandered over to my continuing battle with those two hymns.  “I have to be pretty careful with those two hymns,” I said.  “They both have the power to overwhelm me a bit.”

Her response was, “Have you ever considered listening to what they are telling you, instead of trying to control your reactions to them?  My thought is that they will reveal something about the core of your personal theology.  My experience with hymns that move us is that they are bringing something to the surface that was meant to be out there, that we’re keeping in.  It might even lead you to understand more about expressing your feelings in group.”

I don’t have the answer to that one yet.


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