Friday, November 9, 2007


Songlines are part of the sacred belief of the Australian aborigines. These people believe that the wisdom and knowledge of their ancestors are like invisible footprints, sacred tracks through their land, which they call songlines. By finding the right songline, they connect with their ancestors. In the beginning, the Great Ancestors sang the world into existence. Thus, these people believe that part of their task in life is to help keep the world created.... All of their songs, their works of art, their tending of creation is their way of making real what is already present. Perhaps not unlike the Psalms which are so precious to our faith tradition and which were originally sung. They, too, carry great wisdom and knowledge, expressing the fullest possible range of human emotions, all of which are embraced by Almighty God.

The Psalms help sing our faith into being. Many of us have held dear the promise from Psalm 40: “He drew me up from the desolate pit, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God.” Sacred tracks for the terrain of our soul. Such singing is a knowing, a power and an exchange, a web and a connection to the past.... It acts like connective tissue to hold the community together and make it human.... Once you know the song, you can never get lost.

Our ancient songline is the same, even as we are different. Throughout time, communities, as well as individual lives, have experienced the ups and downs, the ebb and flow of our common story. Our human story. Our faith story.

“He drew me up from the desolate pit, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure.” These images hold different things for different people: despair, danger, death, isolation, pain, fear, depression, anxiety. It is in the desolate pit or the miry bog that we often finally face our souls and the ambiguity and chaos of our inner world.

But then how remarkable it is when at last you feel the rock underfoot and can sing again.... Realizing you have escaped the quicksand of despair or failure or grief. Embracing the good, the bad and the ugly—then means we have our life in our arms to give to others; and a knowing that we are held in God’s arms always.

Consider the verbs from the Psalm—active verbs: God DREW him up and SET his feet upon a rock and PUT a new song on his mouth. That’s what God did. And what did the Psalmist do? “I waited patiently for the Lord...he inclined to me and heard my cry.” “I waited patiently.” Waited expectantly. Anticipating that surely God would respond to his cry. This is our hope. This is our songline. This is God’s promise.

Living, breathing examples of Psalm 40—of those who surely cry out to God to be drawn up from the pit. God sets our feet upon a rock so that in the graced moments that find us high and dry and hopeful, we may help others negotiate the currents and quicksand. The strength is the rock of faith.

The new song in our mouths is in the truth of our ancient songlines as we continue to sing God’s world into being. We are out of tune with God’s universe if we are unable to find joy in that hope. The God who has delivered us and continues to deliver us is the God who became flesh in Jesus Christ and thus fell into the desolate pit, the miry bog, in order to know us fully, and so that we might fully know God and the saving ways of God which will lead us from rock to rock to rock.

Sometimes we have trouble singing from the miry bog, but the melody still haunts us. Sometimes it is the waiting which stretches tunelessly ahead of us. Sometimes when we do sing, we are singing the same words but our tunes are different. This may lead to great dissonance, but may also with humility lead to new harmonies. Sometimes we’re not always sure of the next note. But sing we will and sing we must, because God gives us a new song when we least expect it, and it is part of an ancient songline. Once you know the song—you can never be lost.

No comments:


TWELFTH NIGHT/EPIPHANY      I read this line in a interview with Christian Wiman in Christianity Today:   "Jurgen Mol...