When I lived in Lansing, I listened to what I thought of at the time as deep, dark music, especially in the darkness of winter months. Here is an example. In the darkness, I feel like I grew something bright and joyous, different from the music and the day to day of living in a dark, slushy, cold place.
Over the last three years, I played this song on repeat. In my mind, it captures the twinned tedium and challenge of life during COVID. In my mind, it also captures the experience of being in the Smokies. Somehow, for me, it captures what it’s like to be climbing a winding trail in the mountains, climbing from 3,000 to 4,000 feet and from 4,000 to 5,000 feet, where large Spruce trees suggest there is further to go to reach the top — where even the Spruce give way to the Fir. It was a song about climbing and persevering.
What follows these? I don’t know! This year has been one of not knowing. Following a year in which I professionally dove into the concept of uncertainty and the power of being able to assign numbers to uncertainty, I was and am left with what feel like deep questions about how it is possible to quantify what we think will happen. I was confident, but experiencing a loss gutted me but opened my heart, leaving me questioning what I could know. And so I was asked to explore belonging and faith.
In this context, I don’t know what song I will look back on as the one that captures this year and the next. I think the best I can do is quote a few lines from a new song I enjoy. *We drove past the welcome sign, people playing beneath the pines, heard the music floating from the stage. Pitched our tent and walked around, my heart opened to the sound, I didn’t know it then, but my life had turned a page.” Which page? What is next? Where to at the top of the mountain? I am too old or maybe not old enough to answer.