ordinary… mostly

"We have nothing to offer each other, except a haven." — K. Nafziger



“Light dawns on a weary world”

I have just returned from Laurelville’s Music and Worship Leaders Retreat. This was the eighth time I’d attended, and every year is wonderful. (And every year, I always experience an emotional low on Monday, but you can’t have the low without the joy of the weekend.)

One highlight this year was learning the hymn, “Light Dawns on a Weary World”, with the hope of Isaiah 55 at the conclusion:

We shall go out with joy, and be led forth in peace,
As all the world in wonder echoes shalom.

(If there are song leaders among my readers, you’ll be interested in Mary Louise Bringle’s story of the hymn text.)

Here’s another little taste from the weekend:

(My people.)


Now playing…15 August 2013

It has been over a year since the last ‘now playing’ blog post. And since I’m fairly predictable, you can guess most of the playlist. Here are some links to songs on YouTube, in case you need your fix, too:

* This concert was at Wild Goose last week. I wish I had been there!

But the music I’m playing most right now?

Yes – just like I arrived late to the Bon Iver party last year, I’m a little late to this one, as well.

In these bodies we will live, in these bodies we will die
And where you invest your love, you invest your life

Now playing… 19 May 2012

Bon Iver

Bon Iver – Bon Iver

Sometime in the last couple years, some of my cool Facebook friends* started talking about this new artist – Bon Iver. And I (wishing to be cool, as well) went over to YouTube to listen hear the group’s music**. I wasn’t impressed. End of story for the next year or so…

* I use ‘cool’ in a sort of “liberal, college town” sense – which therefore might mean exactly the opposite of how one would generally define ‘cool’. There is an entire era of my life that I could unpack… How have my six years in Ann Arbor shaped who I am today? We’ll leave that for another time.

** As far as I can tell, it turns out that although Bon Iver is officially a band, it gets creative and artistic direction from one person – Justin Vernon.

It wasn’t until earlier this year, just before the Grammys in February, that I listened again. Occasionally, I like to see which musicians (current or past) have received positive reviews from critics. (This is why I have Van Morrison’s “Astral Weeks” and Neko Case’s “Middle Cyclone“.) I noticed that Bon Iver, who was nominated for Best New Artist, was receiving a lot of praise.

So one night when I was working late at the synchrotron, I returned to YouTube and found that you could listen to the entire self-titled album online. That night, I was completely pulled into the music. I think I must have heard the album six or seven times.

IMHO, this is a great album, but it’s also complex. There are a couple of songs that might stand on their own, but it’s really an album that should be enjoyed as a whole.

And it turns out that ‘enjoy’ may not be the proper word to use. The music creates an emotional atmosphere that’s hard to describe. It is certainly not upbeat, but it’s not exactly sad, either. It’s mellow; introspective, perhaps; and perfect for a late night at the synchrotron. To me, the music is an honest evaluation of our place in this world: humble and grand at the same time.

I find the lyrics to be a bit of a conundrum. For a long time, I couldn’t understand anything that Justin was singing. Eventually, I read the lyrics, and I still can’t understand them. Now I just allow them to interact with the rest of music to create the complete sound.

The music video below is for the song “Holocene” – one of the songs that could stand on its own. And it contains one of those lines that I do understand:

At once I knew I was not magnificent…

This is an example of the “honest evaluation” I mentioned above. And yet when I listen to the music and watch the video, I get the sense that even though I’m not “magnificent”, I’m part of something that is very magnificent.

Men with long hair

Today, Ordinary Spouse overheard a conversation among our girls. They were debating whether men could have long hair…

Youngest Daughter: Doesn’t YouTube have long hair?

Her sisters (puzzled): What do you mean?

YD (with emphasis): I mean the guy who goes…


Ah, yes. That guy does have long hair…

Mamma Mia!

Ordinary Spouse has an Abba album that she likes. The girls are starting to pick up some of the songs. Tonight, Youngest Daughter was singing Mamma Mia:

Mamma Mia!
Here I go again!
My, my!
How can I have a sister?

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas, y’all.

(Turn your volume up a bit for this one.)

(Freely downloadable on Carrie’s website)

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