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From the meditation given at Jazz Vespers on Sunday, May 15:

I have ceased distinguishing
between the religious and the secular,
for everything is holy:

our courage and humility,
our senses both lost and found;
our love and our lust…
all that shall swoon and couple,
leaving in their wake the real hope that,
late as is the hour –
with as much as we have been given
and have squandered;
as little as we might deserve it,
though we stomp and plead—
there may yet be more on offer:

God willing,
just one more song
sung into high rafters
before we are finally called
to quit and disperse.

(Joe Henry | 2016)


Where Everything Is Holy — by Susan Russell

Inspiration comes in many forms …
Including scripture, poetry and Facebook posts.
These words of deep truth were ones
my friend Joe Henry posted on his Facebook page
the day Prince died …
and I snagged them and saved them
because they spoke to me so deeply in that moment
I knew somehow they would continue to speak to me
and they have.

That’s what deep truths do –
draw us into greater truths.

And one of the deep truths this reading
continues to draw me into
is challenging the false narrative of either/or
that has so permeated our civic, cultural and collective discourse
that we seem to have lost the ability to apprehend
the in-between or the both/and –
succumbing to the misapprehension
that unison is a requirement for unity.

It is a false and dangerous narrative
that builds walls rather than bridges;
divides us into us vs. them
polarizing, demonizing and marginalizing
instead reminding us of the “we”
that makes us all members of the same human family

I can think of no richer way to debunk that fallacy
than with the lesson we learn from music …
where unison, harmony and dissonance
all play their part in creating that which calls us beyond ourselves
into a unity that both embraces and transcends our individual experience.

In the church calendar,
today is the Feast of Pentecost.
We celebrate the day the Holy Spirit arrived –
with a rush of wind, tongues of fire
and the gift of diverse languages
that let everyone hear and understand in their own language.

No unison in Pentecost –
rather it is the Feast Day of Diversity,
of inclusion
and of the wildness of the Spirit of Love
which promises to lead us into all truth.

Including the truth that everything God has made is good
That every creature is beloved
That no one is outside the bounds of God’s love, justice and compassion
That everything is holy.

We celebrated that truth this morning in this holy space
with religious language and ritual –
with scripture and incense; choirs and communion; babies and baptism.

And this evening we carve out space
for a holy mix of religious and secular:
for this music,
these readings, these prayers –
spoken and unspoken;
to listen for the Spirit of Love
calling us into all truth
and then sending us out into the world of polarization, division and polemic
reminding it that maybe, just maybe
my friend Joe Henry is right.

There is no distinguishing
between the religious and the secular,
for everything is holy.

And that deep truth leads us into
the deeper truth of what
Martin Luther King, Jr. named
the “inescapable network of mutuality,
tied in a single garment of destiny”
where whatever affects one directly,
affects all indirectly;
and I can never be what I ought to be
until you are what you ought to be,
and you can never be what you ought to be
until I am what I ought to be.

This is the inter-related structure of reality;
the place where everything is holy
everything is love
and our songs sing into high rafters.

Jazz Vespers are offered throughout the year at All Saints Church — on Sunday evenings at 5:00 p.m. This meditation was given by Susan Russell, Senior Associate for Communication on Sunday, May 15th with Gillian Margot and Geoffrey Keezer. For more information, visit the All Saints website.