Thursday, January 7, 2010

"Unfallen"

"...I am a good child
Born of God's breath
Whatever would try to shake me
Deliver me almighty one...

Show me the ways of purity
Teach me Thy paths where I'm to be
A lamb of God
Never will stray out on his own
God is my stay, I'm not alone
There's never a chance of falling..."

-     Michelle Armstrong

Yesterday we launched the new design for my website.  It has been an extraordinary journey with two remarkable friends.  My sister, Fawn, was the Soul-filled, patient, creative, and visionary designer. And my long-time friend, and website guru, Mark Peesel, took her vision and turned it into pixels and code and voila...binary beauty!  

The first time I saw all of the elements together, integrated into one lovely space, I burst into tears.  It was like looking at a beautiful painting that used every color in my heart.  The tones, images, music, text...were a perfect articulation of how I feel about my work, my journey, and the stories that I share with others about God's presence in my life.  Stories that often leave me feeling a bit naked. 

This new design clothes my heart in radiant garments I could never have imagined for myself.  I feel a bit like Cinderella who may have imagined a pretty dress, but not the "something quite magical, and beyond her wildest hopes and dreams" that her fairy Godmother had in Mind.

Thank you Mark and Fawn (and Mark's codemaster, Ryan)...you have made it happen...and I am so touched by your willingness to spend this last year tweaking, and editing, and adjusting colors, spacing, text, and images to get it "just right."  You have built a home for my heart, an office for my work, a retreat for the tired, a soft, supple, buttery-to-the-touch binding for the stories I tell.  And to each of the photographers* who have given me permission to share their images...I am so grateful.

So back to tonight's song.

The above lyrics are from "Unfallen."  It is the first song you will hear if you visit my website,

www.thoughtgentlywhispers.com


You can also get there through the portals of: www.katerobertsoncs.com, www.growthingrace.com, or www.prayerbasedsolutions.com. 

"Unfallen" is followed by Mindly Jostyn's "In His Eyes." A song that I wrote a post about last January, also titled,
"In His Eyes."  (Thank you to Mindy's family for honoring me with permission to use her extraordinary song,  of compassion and healing, on the site.)


Now for "Unfallen." I've known Michelle Armstrong since she was a girl...a camper, a counselor, chef, a "gentle beam of living love" whose smile could light up the dark places of the earth, and whose voice, when floating between the willowy aspens and lodgepole pines, at camp,  was like the purest of rare oils poured on the roiling emotions and  churning fears of teen who were facing extreme adventures, navigating new interpersonal terrain, and finding their way through the forest of identity and society.  Hearing her sing hymns and lullabies to campers...once she became a counselor herself...was akin to watching a horse whisperer gentle the thrashings of a wild mustang. 

Mi and I have stayed most closely in touch over the years, through her mommy, Laura.  Laura is a friend and colleague.  She is a Christian Science nurse whose practice of "comfort's art" inspires and humbles me each summer as we partner in caring for children at camp.  Her touch is gently, her eyes are kind, her voice is sweet, and her laughter is light.  But don't be fooled,  her trust in God is as firm, strong, and resilient with conviction as one of the steel cables used for belaying campers at the high ropes course.   Michelle and her sister Heather, have learned well...from their mommy, the art and science of compassion. 

My love for Mi's music goes back as far as I can remember.  I loved watching her from across the lawn on the porch of her cabin cradling her guitar and softly working through chords and lyrics as she crafted new songs she would later play to her campers at bedtime, sing at the end-of-session variety show, perform during a reunion talent showcase, or harmonize with her friends on stage of Valerie Lodge as we sang "Whither" by the candle light to campers on the last night of camp.

She is a brilliant songsmith and an extraordinary talent.  Her star is bright with promise.  And that promise is due, as much...if not more, to her motives for sharing her music.  She is, at her core, a healer.  A nurse.  A artist painting with the colors of love, joy, peace, and purity.

So it was no surprise when I saw her performing at a spirituality-based youth conference for teens who had gathered to explore global activism from a spiritual perspective.

She was, as always, breath-taking.  Performing with a number of other great musicians, she "rocked the house."   There were familiar songs off her
CDs, "Apples," and "Lemons"...and new offerings as well.

I enjoyed every moment of that evening's entertainment.  And it would have been enough to satisfy my craving for a bit of Mi live...at least for another year....  

But when we ask God for bread, we are not given a stone...however beautiful a gem-stone it may be. 

I needed something more that weekend.  I needed a gentle reminder that my hand had never left the firm grasp of my Father-Mother God.  That He/She was holding me, guiding me, guarding me...even when I seemed to have wandered off the trail.  I needed to know that my path, however bramble-infested, circuitous, or meandering, had never taken me into an abyss...one I feared I'd never be able to fully return from...no matter how hard I tried.

And that wasn't an easy thing for me to remember that weekend.  I was surrounded by former acquaintances, and work colleagues, I hadn't seen in years.  Years that could only be characterized, from the outside, as a long chapter in the wilderness, and interpreted...by some...as full of missed signposts, and detours.  Yes, there were truly, lovely instances of affection and recognition, and  I was deeply grateful for sweet moments of warmth and kindness, but there were also fear-based perceptions, misinterpreted moments of chilly dismissal.  But whether it was intended or not, it was what I thought I was feeling.  And it left my heart shivering with self-doubt, and wishing for a dark corner to curl up in and retreat from the demons of despair, hopelessness, and regret.

I'd gone hoping to serve, and although I'd thoroughly enjoyed every moment of sharing my love for spiritual healing with teens and adult participants as planned, by Sunday morning I just wanted to keep walking past the appointed place for our worship service, and continue off into the woods until it was time for the closing celebration. 

I'd thought about having "church" by myself, in the room I shared with another volunteer, and had even gone there after breakfast, deciding to pray and read Scripture alone, when something literally propelled me off the bed, and out the door.   As I walked through a gentle spring mist, along the gravel road, up a knoll, and over a series of rolling hillocks towards the "chapel" my heart felt as if it were just too heavy to carry. 

I arrived at the service during the first hymn and found a seat off to the side, and behind, a group of folks whom I'd "felt" a distance, an uncharacteristic coolness, from all weekend.  Although we'd worked closely together in the past,  that weekend it seemed as if I couldn't bridge an invisible chasm, and it left me feeling sadder than I'd felt in a very long time.

I don't remember the Scriptural selections, but I do remember praying The Lord's Prayer, and quite literally,  in silence, weeping those words, "Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors,"  then hearing Mary Baker Eddy's spiritual interpretation echoing back, "and Love is reflected in love" ...wondering if I had the right to even hope to feel the audacity of renewal,...to hope for hope.  

As I sat there, shoulders quaking, wishing I could melt into the carpet below me, or disperse...like vapor...into the air circulating through the rafters above us...sitting as still as a scared bunny in the grass, I heard the first heart-stopping chords from Michelle's guitar.  The low, warm tones reached deep, deep, deeper down inside of me to find the place that felt cold and small, each syllable breathing fresh, soft life onto what were the dying embers of self-worth.  The clear, crisp, refreshing air of Truth gently fanning a barely flickering flame of hope that I might still have something left to give, that I could possibly bring gifts that were still of value, or that my heart could, perhaps, make a difference in someone's life that day.

I don't remember one word of the service that followed Mi's solo that morning. I'd drunk her words until they overflowed from the vessel that was my heart, pouring over me, through me, around me...cleansing, baptizing, lifting me like a small sailboat over and above the rocky shoals of selfjudgment, sorrow, suggestion, and despair to where "the winds and waves can shock, oh nevermore."

There are no words to describe the healing power of Mi's song,
"Unfallen" in my life.

I left that community gathering peaceful and whole.

In
Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy helps us see that,

"If we would open their prison doors for the sick,
we must first learn to bind up the broken-hearted."

Sometimes the broken heart that needs binding...is our own.  We must have whole hearts ourselves, if we are to open the prison doors for the sick, and fellow travelers who are longing for freedom from sin and sorrow.

Eddy also says that:

"Whatever inspires with wisdom, Truth, or Love
- be it song, sermon, or Science -
blesses the human family with crumbs of comfort
from Christ's table, feeding the hungry
and giving living waters to the thirsty."


Mi's song did all that...and more.  I am forever grateful.

Later I contacted Michelle, to tell her about the healing I'd experienced during her sacred performance, to inquire if there would be a recording of it in the future, and to ask her permission for extending it as a musical welcome for  visitors to my website...my virtual office...and she said, "yes."  I visit often. It has been the soundtrack of my resurrection ever since, and I can't stop listening to it.  It is a constant reminder that baptism, redemption, and hope are not only possible....but promised.  "Unfallen" still reaches in, and it recalibrates my heart, each time I hear it.

This song speaks to each of us.  It is Christ's message of salvation and purity, innocence and freedom.   I believe that every man, woman, and child hungers to feel, and know, that they are, at the core of their being, inviolate and untouched.  I hope you will let yourself be bathed in the warm beauty of its purity, refreshed by its promise, and buoyed by its message of your inherent worth as "a good child".

Thank you Mi, I love you so very much. Your music fills the world with beauty and my heart with peace....healing, redeeming, overpowering, resurrecting peace.


with Love,
Kate
Kate Robertson, CS

* artists whose images have blessed my website...and whose friendship continues to bless my life:

Nathaniel Wilder

Erin Laningham
Rachel Laningham
Megan Laningham
Ashley Bay
Fawn Talmon
Caitlin Moss
Lila June Jones
Collin Wolfe
Susan Golay
Sune Tamm-Buckle
Floyd Jones
A. Paulson
"Edge Fog" original painting by Duncan Martin

4 comments:

  1. Anonymous7:47 PM

    Michelle used to sing us to sleep when we were in pinto south! [We] were her favourite campers!!!! Legit.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Anonymous5:46 PM

    "...years that could only be characterized, from the outside, as a long chapter in the wilderness, and interpreted ... by some ... as full of missed signposts and detours."

    And who's to judge? smug insiders? ach. this is why i don't much like churches.

    you are a star.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Anonymous11:17 AM

    Kate!
    Oh my GOODNESS!!! Your GOODNESS!!! You are such a teacher of Love. I am humbled by your willingness to hear God's voice and LIVE it. To have "Unfallen," be a light in your life- is great- because it just makes me realize God's song is most powerful and rewarding. It comforted YOU and I LOVE YOU!!!!! I love that our gifts bless so far beyond US. I am so moved to be any tiny bit of light in your shining life!

    Your website is stunning. I look forward to EVERY bit of expression you share. It is insightful and most unselfish. Thank you for giving, Kate!

    I Love YOU!
    Michelle

    ReplyDelete
  4. Anonymous10:38 PM

    Kate, I am reading this 9 months after you posted it..... eating up every word. Your story feels so real and relevant to me. Thank you for sharing and articulating it here.

    I often come to your site to listen to Michelle's song. I feel a calmness in my whole body when I hear it.

    That belief of being fallen/broken/violated comes at us each day, each miniscule moment....sometimes in the most subtle ways. Many times I'm not even aware it's "hijacking" my thoughts till I read a post like this.....or listen to Unfallen...... and I feel relief. These are the sweetest, most gentle wake up calls.

    Love,
    Kat S

    ReplyDelete