Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Why I sing spirituals

I love to sing spirituals which might seem a little odd to those who know my religious views well.
I describe myself as spiritual - Unitarian - in that I believe all religions have some things right (and some things wrong.) And when I really start explaining what I believe, some of my closest friends have thought it means I am atheist or agnostic. The depth of it is simple. I don't believe I can prove myself right in my beliefs any more than I believe anyone else can. What's important is to believe in being a better person and treating other's better - study the human condition and be committed to improving it. If your spiritual path takes you there, I applaud.
I've avoided the very Christian churches I was raised in because I have felt for many years that they were all "hell bent" on selecting for themselves who could and could not belong to "God's Kingdom". They have seemed way too confident in their understanding of what God wants.
But I have never stopped singing and loving the spirituals - even favorite hymns. It is part of my history and heritage but there is something more. As a young teen, I recall learning to sing and play the spiritual "All my Trials" - probably the first slavery era spiritual I learned. I connected with both the pain and the hope of that song. It prompted me to learn about the origins of "negro spirituals". I learned about the Underground Railroad at the same time - 1969 - that the civil rights movement was at fever pitch.
The spirituals are filled with meaning. Some were coded messages meant to let other slaves know that an escape was coming. "Freedom Land", one of my favorites, says "I'm on my way to the freedom land.... I asked my brother...I asked my sister... I asked my mother... and then, "If they won't come, I'll go anyway". That is powerful stuff. The singer was calling for all nearby to abandon conventional wisdom and put ALL on a journey to a better place. And the singer was clearly stating that no matter what others decided, they were going. Freedom! The Freedom Land!!!!
I don't know anyone who is not moved by the message of Freedom. It's what I am searching to find. A place in the world to be me and to be free.
And so, I am back to the start of this blog. Is any part of your belief system impinging on another person's FREEDOM? Are you a Pagan afraid of Christians? Are you a Christian afraid of Muslims? Are you an atheist afraid of.... What is wrong with finding common ground? Let's sing! Let's find some songs we can sing together!! Let's find our way to the Freedom Land!!!!

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