It’s easy to lose heart in a world as noisy and chaotic as ours. There is so much work to be done, and so many able hands and hearts needed to do it all.
When you’re in the line of work I’m in – which I described yesterday to the community sing circle Bernice and I led here in Conway as ‘spreading joy around’ – it can get really disheartening sometimes. Am I singing these songs just for myself? I have asked myself in more quiet, more tired, more depressed moments. After glancing at the news at any given hour, meaningful music making can sure seem like a Sisyphean task.
My friend Davy Sturtevant once wrote a song that briefly gives voice to this frustration that songwriters often experience with the lyric, ‘We’re changing the world a song at a time / in the land of the never was.’
Yesterday at the sing, I shared a song of mine that I often teach at our community sings called ‘These Hands, This Heart.’ Since we had a bunch of new-to-us folks in the circle, I introduced the song by sharing my vision for it. I explained, ‘I have always pictured folks marching in the streets singing this song – not in anger, but in nonviolent, peaceful demonstration in support of some worthy cause.’
Our friend Bets, whom we hadn’t seen in ages, was in attendance yesterday, and as soon as I’d finished introducing the song and was about to start singing it, she burst out, ‘It’s already happening!’ I paused for a beat, and then she told us all the story of how she participated in the Poor People’s Campaign in D.C. last June. Remembering my vision for the song, she told us that she taught the song to a busload of folks from Maine who were traveling down to join the thousands of others who were converging upon the nation’s capital. ‘We were singing it all the way,’ she told us, beaming as she shared the story.
I was speechless for just a moment, and I nearly burst into joyful tears.
Each of us can change the world – one song, one heart, one mind at a time. It’s the belief that spurs me on every day that I’m lucky enough to make music for a living.
These hands will do the work
These feet will carry me
These arms will be welcoming to what these eyes can see
This heart will stay open to the possibility
And the love in this heart will set me free