Songs from the Wilderness

I spent the morning of Good Friday roaming about in the desert with my dog. If you ask me, the desert is the only place to spend this day–literal or elsewise.

Last year I wrote a piece about the proper sound track for Holy Week, and this year, the good folks over at The Salt Project featured the post.  They do beautiful work for Jesus and the world, and if you’ve never checked out their stuff, now’s a good time.

Meanwhile, my desert journey this morning took me back to the beginning of Lent, a sermon i did about “Songs from the Wilderness.” I talked about what Jesus might have listened to/sung to himself/heard from the spirit during his days of desert roaming.  After all, music is where the sould finds its deepest expression. Who would we be, if not for the songs that have shaped us? With that in mind, I’m revisiting the idea of a Holy Week playlist this year, grateful for all the ways a good song can set even our darkest patch of lyrics to a hopeful tune.

Isn’t that what today is for, after all?  We hear that book close with a finality that wracks our soul: it is finished.  And we know it to be true.

And yes, perhaps we already bought candy, and hung butterflies in the sanctuary, and washed and ironed a beautiful dress for the small child at home; maybe there’s a ham in the fridge, a cloudless blue sky overhead, the beginnings of joy pushing us quickly through the desert dust.

But for an awful moment–or for three days of them–our story ends, and we sit with the awful truth that perhaps, this time, God is finished with us after all.  This story manages to settle on our soul in a way that calls forth a deep and Holy longing; and yet, miraculously, it does not quite cripple us. Even now, there is an alleluia forming on our lips. It threatens to break forth, unbidden, before its time on Sunday morning.

So what do we sing in the meantime? Again, i wonder what Jesus sang in the wilderness. I wonder what Mary sang as she wandered, alone and shaken, from the sealed tomb. I wonder what the disciples hummed as they faced the awful burden of the calling Jesus left, warm and beating,  in their hands. I think it all went a little something like this…

Hard Times, Come Again No More


Jesus Walks



The Cave  (side note: if i could have M&Sons come and sing this on Sunday, i would not have to preach…Anybody got a hook up? Think they’d work for cheap?)

And this one: this song runs all through at about 18 levels on any given day. But for now…for right this moment, I can see those tortured, heartbroken women walking away from the tatters of a cross, this tune haunting them all the way home. And maybe, just maybe, bringing them back a few days later just to see…just to see if dawn is coming, after all: Shake it Out ladies. Hard to dance with the devil on your back, I know. But something–some unseen, mysterious wonder of grace– keeps you moving, all the way to Sunday.


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