To the words between us; and to us between the words!

There is a great creativity possible when we fail. Initially, nobody likes failure.  We westerners tend to think that we are failures rather than that we have experienced failure.  These are two very different things.  Like the difference between shame and guilt (what I am versus what I have done), we too easily and quickly confuse the inevitability of failing with the self-identification with failure.

We are about to launch a new effort to create an experience for our congregation next fall which inspires philanthropy.  We are going to save money by doing videos this fall rather than an expensive brochure.  And we are gratefully receiving a gift of $30,000 in videography and photography by a talented and successful young fashion photographer and artist named Sam Gove.  We begin filming this week and this project will not be a failure. It will be art.  It will be beauty.  It will be the words of our church.

However, doing a new thing is quite vulnerable.  And especially in church, where so many parking-lot conversations occur about what we do and how we do it in church.  What if find so often is that criticism of art and artists comes so quickly from people for whom creativity is somehow constipated in their being – the cramps resulting in criticism. Stepping out into the vulnerability of trying a new thing means that we might succeed beyond our wildest dreams or, we might fail.  And in my experience, vulnerabilities are best lived out as curiosity rather than as fear.  A new job, a new marriage, a graduation, a new Dean, a new project, a new campaign – doing new things with deep, peaceful curiosity is such a marvelous, gentle, soft way of being on the planet.

Parker Palmer, the great activist, theologian and communicator once wrote a poem which Carrie Newcomer wrote into a song.

In a tribute to Parker Palmer, Carrie said of writing the song that what interested her was the mysterious and overlapping places between sound and

And I really do believe that it is between sound and silence that the most amazing things happen.  This is where curiosity douses the flames of fear’s forest fires if we allow it.

The campaign theme for the Cathedral this fall is: “The words between us” and will occur in eight conversations filmed in black and white. Each week a video conversation, mostly between people of differing generations, will unfold on the question of “Joy at Saint John’s.”

We will be filming and celebrating the words between us.  And we will be acknowledging that we fall between the words and silences of God’s continued work of the ongoing creation God is busy speaking into existence.  Jesus became the Word.  So words are important.

When Parker Palmer wrote this poem and then when Carrie Newcomer remade it into a song, they were toasting words and how mysterious they are.

Imagine a toast – with arms raised and champaign glasses filled.  The toast this:

“To Words and How They Live Between Us…

To Us and How We Live Between the Words…”

I LOVE this toast.  And I especially love it given that we follow a Savior who is the word made flesh.

Here is the text of this stunning poem and song – the theme of our campaign next Fall. And following it is a link to Carrie Newcomer’s moving song.  Please listen to it. and from within it, imagine what God is speaking through your existence.

(if the link does not work, please cut and paste this into your browser)

“Praise be that this thin mark, this sound
Can form the Word that takes on flesh
To enter where no flesh can go
To fill each other’s emptiness.

To Words and How They Live Between Us…
To Us and How We Live Between the Words…
And in between the sound of words

I hear your silent, sounding soul
Where One abides in solitude
Who keeps us one when speech shall go

To Words and How They Live Between Us…
To Us and How We Live Between the Words…”


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