Ever have a song follow you around like a love-sick puppy--just waiting to sneak back into your awareness at the first turn of your head? I have this experience often; but recently, I had it intensely! The seed of melody and lyrics had rooted so quickly that even in the middle of the night, they were my first thought. "Holiest Hand" by Brianna Lea Pruett was a song I'd learned by singing it a few times on my last visit to Portland. One of my wishes had come true there: my presence intersected with a Sunday afternoon choir rehearsal that my son, Gavin, directs.
I was already a fan of the "Free Choir" from listening to their CD. So I knew some of the songs, but loved learning the newer ones too. When we came to "Holier Hand," I waited through the mini-rehearsal for the harmony section, and as we began to sing it together, the words entered my heart like a friend who no longer need to knock. A couple of times I missed a phrase because my feelings were stronger than my vocal chords.
"Put one foot in front of the other
Don't get scared
God, don't let me run for cover
Somethin' real good is gonna happen today
Right in front of my cryin' face
I just hope I have the grace
To free my heart and mind
And leave old ghosts behind."
"Running for cover" is typically used to promote safety--that moment when someone or something that could seriously hurt you is on the rampage. But the songwriter, in her brilliance, used it differently: as a reference for running back into that which "protects" us from growth, risk and our own evolution. The retreat into that which keeps us small is sometimes the greatest danger of all.
The reason tears instead of words came out as I sang? In the midst of so much movement and meaning in my life, I was having a day where part of me wanted to run for cover. Exhausted and overwhelmed, old patterns and habits threatened while new potentials seemed out of reach. I was talking myself down from a ledge of my own fear when Brianna, a young woman I'd met years ago, reached out her songwriting hand.
Leaving Old Ghosts Behind ...
. We run for cover when we repeat our old stories--not those of triumph, learning, joy and adventure, but the other ones: how I was mistreated, hurt, betrayed or tattooed in the wrong spot. Years ago, I met a woman in her 60's who had a powerful spiritual cause, but she was still telling the story of being left at the altar in her 20's--and it hadn't turned into a comedy yet. When we persist in our old stories, we're running for cover from unhealed selves that lie beneath.
Old Habits.We run for cover when we continue habits that are no longer worth inhabiting. The usual suspects come to mind, but the habits that live under the bridge of awareness are just as debilitating--sometimes moreso. Oh the vagrancy of insecurity, lack of confidence, holding back and playing small--habits all. When we find shelter in these, we lose the opportunity to connect with the less inhabited places of truth, grace and strength inside us. These have the power to turn old habits into ghosts that no longer haunt.
Old Limitations. We run for cover when we assume that our old limitations are permanent--maybe they are and just maybe they aren't. A couple of years ago, my grandson, Jaden, urged me to take a bite of the pear he was eating. "I don't like pears," I said. "But Delly, these are different." "I don't like the texture of pears." "But Delly, how will you know about this one unless you try it?" Got me there. Turns out, I love Asian pears. Magnify that small deprivation by all the larger ones we put upon ourselves. We run for cover when we rely on past limitations of mind, heart and the capacity to stretch and shock ourselves--whether it be fruit or self-fruition.
Old Success. In Brianna's song, she actually uses the phrase "and leave old success behind" until the very end where she changes the word to "ghosts." At first I was taken back by this unusual thought, and then I realized that it was perfect. It's so easy to treat old successes as "the best we'll ever be"--something to keep holding up to the light rather than leave behind. Did you see the story some years ago about the man who had built a whole museum (and life) around a small role he had in a movie 50 years ago? We run for cover when we assume that our old successes are still alive, hiding behind their empty skirts rather than dressing for brand new success--however scary, risky and bodacious!
Til We Cross Paths Again,
If you would like to hear Brianna sing "Holiest Hand," please email me and I'll send it to you as an attachment.
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