A couple posts ago, I mentioned how excited I was and how much anticipation I was feeling about a workshop I was to attend. Well the workshop has happened and I am still glowing from the energy and hope I drew from the experience beyond the sheer pleasure that being at the conference, in the moment, brought to me.
The workshop was entitled, “Our Lives as Sacred Stories.” And, “Oh, Lordy, Lordy, it was wonderful,” as my maternal ancestors used to say.
Carrie Newcomer is a dear friend I have known since before disco-died. In the very late 1970s or extremely early 80s, I heard Carrie perform as a solo act at the Pizza Keg in West Lafayette. I am not sure if she had written “Survivors” as yet, and she probably performed “Black-eyed Susan.” Within a short time she was dating a good friend of my boyfriend, and I was eating veggie dinners of delightful stuffed mushrooms, and wine, at her place, and was marvelling at this woman who soaked soybeans and made her own soy milk and tempeh, and made a run-down upstairs apartment in central Lafayette, Indiana into a beautiful, homey haven from impending Reaganism, and on top of it all she was a singer-songwriter. I was in awe of her. Still am.
I was right there through the entirety of the Stone Soup era. I lived with the sound man. I wrapped a lot of cords. I wrote a thesis about underground networks of midwives attending home-births as she had a home-birth. I marvelled at her strength, and her belief in the path she was making, taking, or following (depending on your own world view) as her solo career began again.
We were both there at the beginning of the ending of some quite significant relationships for both of us. One of images my memory conjures up whenever I hear the word “angels” is of Carrie and I as we sat on a low concrete step connected the sidewalk in front of my student ghetto home. There was a sense of turmoil and sadness around us as we talked. There were some pretty hard times ahead for both of us. I listened as she told me how she saw angels. I did not really understand this nor the verse that she had referenced until I heard the song of hers, Angels Unaware, decades later.
We have rarely seen each other in the intervening decades, but there is still a connection when we meet. Two midwestern girls all grown up, in fact grown to an age where some become wise women (but not us…, nah, we both see ourselves as doing foolish things with some regularity) as we live very different lives across the continent from each other. She is fiercely gentle as she shares her story of love and the connectedness of all things.
One thing I know: “Never get between a Quaker… and her mission.”
So what did we do at the workshop?
She showed us how to write about a kindness received or given. Then, she showed us how to take that glowing feeling we had after writing and take it out into community and grow it larger, this time, into a song. She showed us that when we share this kind of experience and really listen to someone, and connect, it is then good to stop, and say, “and it was holy.”
Carrie is so good at walking the walk. It is like the difference between being lectured at and having someone share a part of her heart with you.
Also published on Medium.