Lorraine Hunt Lieberson began her career as an accomplished viola player. While on tour in Europe (in the late 1980s), her viola was stolen. She could have replaced it. As would be imagined, the theft threw her into a state of feeling lost and uncertain. She stopped playing. After a while, Lorraine began to work with only instrument she had, her voice.
When asked, Lorraine stresses that her decision to go into singing happened quite naturally. “There were a lot of encouragements along the way, but no individual, earth-shaking event that made me change,” she says. “But, back in 1988, when my viola was stolen, I took that as a sort of omen.” (And although she hasn’t yet replaced her stolen viola, she avows “the viola is always with me in spirit when I sing.”)
Interestingly, Lorraine is shy about being interviewed; she has no press agent. But when she sings she is known for an ever-widening swath of ardor and awe that she leaves in her wake. An intensity. Bottom line: her voice—her singing—touches hearts and lives.
The irony is that the gift—the artistry—she has given us all began when life turned left.
Because this is not a story about a viola, or about what has been lost. It’s about the music that remains and perseveres. And we are the instruments. This week, I needed Lorraine’s story as a reminder (and perhaps reassurance). And to underscore a necessary paradigm shift for us all.
No, I don’t play viola. But I know what it’s like to have the unknown take a toll. And many know, like Lorraine, what it means to feel lost or adrift.
In this kind of world, where do we tether our identity for well-being, for self-respect and for dignity?
Because if we cannot find that place, it is easy to stop playing music. Or caring. Or risking. Or giving.
So, let’s start with the paradigm shift. (And the good news.)
Here’s the deal: Life is not only about what has been lost; it’s about the music that resides and endures. Which means that we have a choice, to say how the story ends. Because when I’m at the mercy of the story—or the script—I demand to make sense of it all. Or rail against it. Or play a victim.
As if I’m helpless. “Sorry, I’d love to play, or make a choice, or make a difference, or take a risk, but I lost my viola.”
When I’m weary in my spirit, I confess that I click my ruby heels, hoping to be transported to a gentler and saner OZ. And in the past, I’ve talked about wrestling with depression, which only exacerbates this notion that we need to make sense of everything before we care, assuming that the job is to find answers or solutions. When life is uncertain it is easy to live inconvenienced. (Making matters worse because we assume that it’s a bad thing. Meaning that we don’t trust our internal resources.) You see, this is where we go off the rails. When we focus on what we’ve lost (scarcity), we are unable to access what we have (sufficiency).
And when I see only scarcity, I miss the fact that every single one of us has been gifted with creativity, abundance, heart, love, passion, gentleness, helpfulness, caring, kindness, tenderness, restoration and a shoulder to lean on. This is the paradigm of internal sufficiency.
Worth noting: In the context of our work (or job), to live wholehearted, authentic and from the inside out, is about the difference between a career and a vocation. A vocation is a calling; a service or ministry or passion that spills from what is already inside, regardless of mood, or pleasant circumstances, or the need to avoid struggle.
People who play the music that is inside, honor the artist.
That’s not easy to do in this world. Ask any class of kindergarten students, “How many of you are artists?”
How many raise their hands? Every single one of them.
Ask fourth graders. Maybe half.
Seventh graders. A handful.
Seniors in high school. Maybe one.
It’s quite the educational system we have created. We begin with artists, and we slowly wean it out of them.
So, what’s the secret?
Remember that in every encounter with people, Jesus helped change the paradigm. “You are more than the sum of your circumstances.”
I do know this: it is easy to lose sight of the artist that resides inside every one of us. Whether lost or buried or stuck or forgotten or dismissed or ignored… or “stolen.”
When we tag or label or describe ourselves, “artist” is seldom used.
Where I was raised, artist was a phase you went through (a dream), you know, to grow out of, to, move on to something more useful and sensible—in order to get a real job.
There’s a connection here… wholeheartedness and artistry (vocation)… and the need for sanctuary.
So, what is this artist? It is the place in our spirit that births… creativity, enchantment, imagination, play, risk and investment, with a whole heart.
I quote David Orr frequently. But it’s worth it. “The plain fact is that the planet does not need more successful people. But it does desperately needs more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers, and lovers of every kind.”
Yes. The artistry of being fully and authentically human. An artistry that does not reside only in the talent or prodigy or genius, but in the vitality, innocence, passion and delight of wholeheartedness. And it isn’t detoured by life’s unkindness.
Today, a drive south on Interstate 26 from the Tennessee border to Asheville, NC, following the Appalachian Mountains. In autumn, the flowing mountains now covered with a quintessential Grandmother’s quilt of green, red, gold and orange. This is indeed, medicine for the soul, a landscape that dials down the emotional thermostat, calming, quieting and reviving, an antidote to the agitation we tote from daily life.
The Celtic church had a word for these moments of transformation. They called them thin places. “A thin place is anywhere our hearts are opened,” writes Marcus Borg. “They are places where the boundary between the two levels becomes very soft, porous, permeable. Thin places where the veil momentarily lifts and we behold (the ‘ahaah of The Divine’) all around us and in us.”
A celebratory Halloween to you all, our created mixture from All Saints and All Souls Day. And for our Mexican and Latin American friends, Día de los Muertos. Days to celebrate and welcome family spirits back to the realm of the living.
I confess that I don’t really have a Halloween costume, unless you count middle-aged tourist. Just sayin’.
More than ever we need sanity and restoration. Be gentle with yourself this week, and let your music spill.
Quote for your week… I keep asking myself what is mine to do, now. Every day, every moment: what’s the most creative, loving, courageous, and authentic way that I can show up now? And now? And now? Miki Kashtan
SABBATH MOMENT BULLETIN BOARD
Today’s Photo Credit: Hope, after the storm.
Shrine Mont is a conference and retreat center located in Orkney Springs, a community in western Shenandoah County, Virginia, WV. I took this photo this past week after a pretty intense storm. This is outside the room where we were meeting… Keep sending your photos… send to firstname.lastname@example.org
Yes, your gift makes a difference… Donation = Love…
Help make Sabbath Moment possible. I write SM because I want to live with a soft heart; to create a place for sanctuary, empathy, inclusion, compassion and kindness… a space where we are refueled to make a difference. SM remains free.
(NEW address by check: PO Box 65336, Port Ludlow, WA 98365)
Thanks Terry for your morning’s meditations. Your quote today of Francis Ponge, about meaning to be found in the “simplest object or person” instantly reminded me of a Tennyson poem that my grandmother loved, and passed on to me. Blessings on your day, Lane
Flower in the crannied wall,
I pluck you out of the crannies,
I hold you here, root and all, in my hand,
Little flower-but if I could understand
What you are, root and all, all in all,
I should know what God and man is.
Alfred Lord Tennyson
POEMS AND PRAYERS
You with the firefly soul, keep honing your light. Brighten it with jewel tones of your heat; the ones that project laughter, love, strength, and kindness out into the world before you. And don’t be afraid to venture into the places where fear and hopelessness live, because that’s where your firefly soul is needed the most. But beware, life will to its best to extinguish that light, so it’s up to you to see that it doesn’t. Humanity is depending on you to keep shining, beautiful firefly soul.
Mona Lisa Nyman
No one I ask knows the name of the flower
we pulled the car to the side of the road to pick
and that I point to dangling purple from my lapel.
I am passing through the needle of spring
in North Carolina, as ignorant of the flowers of the south
as the woman at the barbecue stand who laughs
and the man who gives me a look as he pumps the gas
and everyone else I ask on the way to the airport
to return to where this purple madness is not seen
blazing against the sober pines and rioting along the
On the plane, the stewardess is afraid she cannot answer
my question, now insistent with the fear that I will leave
the province of this flower without its sound in my ear.
Then, as if he were giving me the time of day, a passenger
looks up from his magazine and says wisteria.
(Hebrew, “Here I Am”)
On this day may I be present
to the Miracle of being alive.
May I reach out to those who are suffering
and may I use my voice as a force for good.
May I have the courage to do what is right,
not what is easy.
May I have the strength
to shine a light in the darkness.
May I not distance myself