The Speed of Soul Blog

Carrie Newcomer
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Justice

On A Permeable Life I continue to explore the idea of justice. I was listening to one of my favorite radio programs, ‘On Being’, hosted by Krista Tippet (exploring the intersection of science, culture and spirituality). On this particular podcast civil rights activist, Vincent Harding, spoke about how every justice movement has been supported by music and song. Sometimes we make jokes about the “Kumbaya moment,” but Harding related stories about how songs were at the heart of the civil rights movement (and other movements). Near the end of the program he called for the new songs of hope and justice, ones that speak to our current condition and communities. After hearing this interview I kept thinking about how music connects us in ways deeper than words. When we sing together about the ideas that are vitally important to us something changes. Singing together is not just an intellectual exercise. Yes, songs happen in our minds and intellect, but they also happen in our bodies and in our spirits. Singing together about justice brings that hope into the world in new and tangible ways. That was when I wrote the song, “Room at the Table” which appears on A Permeable Life.

I wanted to write a new kind of hymn, a contemporary call to justice and an affirmation of our ability to work toward positive change. I’m pleased to hear from listeners and organizations that the song is already being sung by groups engaged in work for marriage equality, hunger relief, economic justice, peace and nonviolent conflict resolution, environmental action and sustainable living. I believe if we choose to share, there will be enough for us all. “This is how it all begins, let us sing the new world in. There is room at the table for everyone.“

My Life In I-Tunes Shuffle

It’s like cranking down the drivers window,
Washing over like a stadium wave.
He sings “Have a little faith in me,”
and “Rock a bye sweet baby James.”
I am driving in my high school beater,
I am boldly kissing my first lover,
And dropping like rain from the ceiling
Is a crippled heart that keeps on singing
“A holy and broken Hallelujah.
Hallelujah, Halleloo-oo- jah.”

Then sly and soft a late night psalm,
The cryptic words I wrote on my palm,
Wondering where the lion’s went,
That year I couldn’t pay the rent.
And randomly I heave a sigh,
For the ones that still can me cry,
About shirts and shrouds, landslides and clouds
That always got in the way.

When I’ve had enough of my own movie,
Enough of all the ghosts that walk right through me,
Beached and breathless walking home,
I remove one by one, the white earphones,
and vow to never invite the trouble
of listening on random shuffle.

-Carrie Newcomer

Thresholds

A Permeable Life explores the topic of thresholds. Most of us experience times of change and threshold moments. The old has passed away, and yet the new has not quite arrived. In such moments we stand at the doorway and survey the open space left by what has been lost or left behind. In that moment the open space can look suspiciously like a hole, but in songs like “The Ten O’clock Line” the shape of that space is considered. Perhaps this is the moment to reframe my thinking and ask, “What has been waiting for such a space in my life? Is there something that could not appear while every square inch of my life was filled to extreme? Perhaps this is not a hole, but only a space?”

At the Time….

Wednesday Speed of Soul Conversation: A good friend was having a birthday with a “0” on the end. We were looking at old photos and laughing at all the older clothing styles, 80’s hair and 90’s jeans. She smiled and said, “Honey, I was just being as cute as I knew how to be.” There is something so kind and accepting about that phrase and attitude. I think about it when I’m wrestling with an old mistake or misstep that haunts me a little. Yes, along the way we have so much to learn, we have all tried on a lot ideas (and some that turned out to be the idea equivalent to shoulder pads and too much eyeliner). But, well - We were just kind of being as cute as I knew how to be at the time. There are things we embrace, things that continue to be good and present in our lives, things that had their time and moment, but now they are not needed. Breathe in Breath out…you were just being as cute as you knew how to be at the time. 

So today, the conversation is about - how do we find the same good humor and kindness of spirit that my friend gave herself when looking at all those old photos? Have you ever been able to give yourself (or another person in your life) that sort of tenderness of spirit and viewpoint?
Is there something in the wider world at large…that might be helped or healed with a bit more humor and kindness? Its easy to get frustrated with someone operating in the world in a way that is so far from your own…but might there still be a thread? Something human - something worth looking a little deeper for? Is it possible that you are both just trying to be as cute as you know how to be?

Sacramental Living

I write a great deal about finding something extraordinary in an ordinary day. In the humble and smallest things there can be great meaning. I know this because I’ve experienced it in the kindness of strangers all over the world. I know this because I find such deep satisfaction in a daily task done with love. I think I’m one of a growing number of people who do not want to put what is considered sacred into such a small container. The sacred can be small, simple, and quotidian and is present in each person I meet. This album celebrates such things. It is radically uncynical and fearlessly hopeful. But this is not hope that is Pollyanna or candy coated. But rather a gritty kind of hope that gets up each morning and tries again to make the world just a little kinder place. It is a hope that is aware of a world of sorrows out there, and understands that a heart that hopes will inevitably be disappointed or even broken upon occasion. Cynical living is so safe. The daily practice of hope takes a lot of courage. It takes getting up in the morning and trying again because the alternative is safe, but deeply limits possibility and often leads to despair.

Wednesday Speed of Soul Conversation: The Cosmos Winks

Someone

told me once that synchronicity is when god winks. I kind of like that idea - Something of Light and Love and Healing in the Universe is ever conspiring to get our attention…and doing this with a sense of humor.
Here is the fortune cookie “word of the day” I got at lunch. hummmm.
SofSoul Question- Have you ever had an experience that felt like the Universe was winking at you?

Presence

Like most writers I have themes that continue to inspire, fascinate and call me back. On A Permeable Life, I delve deeper into the ideas of presence, sacramental living and thresholds. In our culture we are not encouraged to reflect or take the time to consider that just because we can throw one more ball into the air, does that mean I should. I believe that multi-tasking is one of the more insidious myths of our modern world. We are not encouraged to be present or actually show up for our own lives. In a world of a million distractions we have to intentionally decide whether or not we will be present in our own lives instead of end each day with a vague feeling of having missed something important. But, when I am present in my own life that is when I start to see miracles. When I really inhabit my own life I catch moments of wonder and beauty. I sense that there is something shining in the world, a spirit that connects us, that lives in us and all around us.

Here is a link to the song “Abide” cowritten with Parker J. Palmer.  Sometimes the greatest gift we give one another is our open hearted presence. http://tinyurl.com/nd95wkm   

Abide

One more video to post for the new album release. Abide was co-written with Parker J. Palmer, a favorite writer (and person). It’s about how true presence is perhaps one of the finest gifts we give one another.http://tinyurl.com/nd95wkm

Room at the Table

Hi Folks,  Here is the new video for Room at the Table from “A Permeable Life.”

I love what is happening with this song.  Already I’ve been told it’s been used with spiritual communities, with folks working for marriage equality, environmental and sustainability organizations, with folks calling attention to issues of hunger and heath care.  

Yes, there is room at the table if we choose!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=92OM5bdQ4N4

New Album Release Tomorrow!

Hi Friends.  Tomorrow “A Permeable Life” is released to the public.  For all the Takes a Community folk - my endless gratitude.  We all created this together and it would not be happening without your support.  This is our collective project and I can’t tell you enough how encouraging, touching and energizing your comments and contributions have been.   Yes…There is a Light in the Window….and Room at the Table… and great value in The Work of Our Hands.  So I’m Writing You This Letter and inviting you to Abide with me to celebrate the songs you’ve help to give wings in this world.  Thank you, Good Night and here we go!!!! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=92OM5bdQ4N4