Minding the Light #1

The members and attenders of my Monthly Meeting, West Hills Friends, publishes a bi-monthly collective journal called “Minding the Light”.  Each chapter has a query that everyone is invited to respond to. This ministry is a way for all of us to share what God is doing in our lives, with written responses, poems, and original art. You can read some of the past entries on this website:


Also, If you’re at all interested in having a hard copy regularly sent to you, a year subscription is $20 dollars.

One more quaking aside, hang around Friends, and you’ll hear the word “query” often. Additionally, most Faith & Practice documents (which are kind of like a description of beliefs for a denomination) from the different Yearly Meetings will include a set of queries for the entire Yearly Meeting.  I found this to be kind of…odd…when I first encountered the word, but the explanation that I’ve heard has come to be something that I now treasure about my faith tradition.  Quakers believe that questions are a core component of our faith, it is not necessarily all about answers.  The church that George Fox broke away from in the mid 17th century claimed to have all the answers, locked inside of steeple houses and empty forms. I’m so grateful that across all the streams of Quakerism today, it is still the norm to place a high value on questions.  Yearly Meetings, Monthly Meetings, and individual Friends continue to ask themselves questions, and the level of education they’ve completed or the number of years they have lived in no way limits their ability to receive answers. 

Continuing revelation….a profoundly beautiful position…that is also pretty problematic at times… but that is a whole other blog post! 

Back to this chapter of Minding the Light.  I want to start contributing to this journal, and I thought it would be a fun regular section to share on this blog.  So without further ado, Here is my first submission.

Query: When have you encountered the Light through music?

One of the most meaningful ways that I have encountered the Light through music was during my sophomore year at George Fox University, when I took a History of Latin America course.  The class was one of my favorites, and it included watching a 1986 film called “The Mission” which depicted a Jesuit mission in South America.  The movie touched my heart, and my less than favorable opinion of missionaries at the time, became more complex.  A huge part of the story is about the redemption of a former Spanish slave trader, who dedicates his life to try to undo the damage he caused to the native community; his name was Mendoza.



The song in the movie that stuck with me was called “On Earth As It Is in Heaven”, and it is an orchestral score.  It starts slowly, with the strings, and leads into an angelic sounding choir.  Today this song makes me think about the Kingdom of God, and the mystery of that always helps me to pray.  How can the Kingdom be present now, and also on its way? How do I live in the Kingdom? How do I work to get there?

After I was done with that class, my love for history grew, and so I decided to take it on as a second major.  The professor who taught that class would become my advisor, and was one of the people who reached out to me when I was in desperate need of help at Fox.  This song made me remember his kindness, and I how I want to pray to have the eyes to see the needs that surround me.  

The song also makes me think of Common Ground, and how I would pray for them.  On the days where I felt like we had achieved a success, I would often fall asleep with this song playing, and visions the happiness of future LGBTQ children.  On the days where I felt defeated and angry, I’d shut myself in my room, and play the song.  Eventually my tears would stop, my fists would unclench, and my heart would soften again. 


God only knows how many times I’ve listened to that song on repeat, but the Light I encounter in it makes me remember, and it leads me into something new, every time.


12 comments:

  1. Beautiful Post A.J.
    I guess I've encountered the Light of Christ in Music in many different forms.

    One of my favorites are the last 10:00 minutes of Richard Bernstein's Mass.
    Bernstein's Mass is essentially the slow disillusionment of a priest with God, religion, and Humanity. But it ends with a beautiful and almost unexpected scene in which the Priest, helped by a wonderful chorus, sings an at first hesitant and then bold and ultimately majestic song of praise to God, which ends with a plea for God to bless all who have witnessed it. It is not the most inspiring song I've ever heard. But it is one of the the most arresting and heartbreaking,like seeing a King triumph in a battle they had no business winning only to die on the battlefield.
    And it reminds me of what Jurgen Moltmann called the Crucified God, the God who suffers, yet triumphs.

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    1. Hey Daniel,

      Thanks so much for reading and responding to the query! That description sounds so beautiful : ) Do you have a link to the song?

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    1. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JA0ooG6EV80

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    2. Thanks so much : ) I really enjoyed that!

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  3. Very moving Aj. For me it's the 23rd Psalm. I bet I've repeated it a zillion times since 1992 when it popped into my head in a stressful situation. It's now there in all situations good or bad. It just pops into my head. Keep up the great blog!

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    1. Thanks so much Maureen! And yes I love that one too, the part of it that I find myself praying more often than not is, "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me."

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    2. Just last night I saw the video of Bree Newsome taking down the Confederate battle flag (and with a companion being arrested) at the South Carolina State Capitol. It was very clear as we heard her reciting that Psalm, invoking the accompanying Power of The Lord, as she was taken away. Maybe someone else can supply the link to that historic moment. I am truly glad when I hear from others who find comfort and guidance in David's Psalm.

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    3. OK, here's the link to the article, in which the video is embedded. As one commentator noted, this should enter the national iconography alongside the Iwo Jima flag raising picture.
      http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/06/29/1397641/-Meet-Bree-Newsome-activist-and-artist?detail=email

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    4. Thanks for sharing this story David!

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  4. I encountered the Light through music in this song from the movie "As It is In Heaven" …it meant a lot to me:

    http://youtu.be/ZxmgkxRrpZE

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    1. Finally got a chance to listen to this :' ) made me tear up. Thanks for sharing Scott!

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