The music of the Appalachians, from which I hail, is one shaped by despair, sorrow, and an existential angst so to speak. The music of the Appalachians was composed by many Scottish and Irish immigrants who lived in desperate times. David Crowder remarks that it was this harsh reality of life they faced that lead them to write and play music that was eschatological at its core.
They wanted to sing themselves out of the present into the future Crowder says. They wanted to sing themselves into the Kingdom of God, the Here and Now. The thing about song is that it takes us into a reality, which as Crowder says, is actually a reality. So music is not so much about taking us into a new reality as it is about making us aware of the one we’re in already; it makes us aware of God’s presence for He is Reality. As an Orthodox Christian, I have a realized eschatology that the Kingdom of God is here and now. I can sing to bring myself into an awareness of this Reality where we live life from our hearts, the place of our true selves.
I know what hard times are like. I grew up poor, am poor, and as someone who has a desire for the priesthood I will probably always feel poor. I know struggles. I know heartache. I know abuse. I know disappointment. Recently, I was denied acceptance into Johnson’s grad school. This is saddening and disappointing. My wife and I are having hard times trying to figure out our next steps. We face this road with uncertainty. We will face many hard times ahead that is for sure. That is life. Despair is all around us, however, I think it reminds us of something more.
With or without hard times, I am a person who likes to have goals, aspirations, and direction. I like structure.
I think I am gonna apply to Lee University, but maybe not start until the spring matriculation. I want to make sure I can get in now, but I am so burn out physically, spiritually, emotionally, and mentally from undergrad. I could use a good 7 to 8 months off.
Courtney and I have began looking for apartments in Oak Ridge. I have also began looking for a new job. I applied to Target, but of course cannot become full time until post-graduation. I really need a job that pays more than $8.00 an hour and is full time.
Please, dear friends and loved ones, keep us in your prayers. We have found such a wonderful church, St. Anne Orthodox Church, and priest, Father Stephen, and we are not quite ready to leave the Knoxville area. We want to stick around and become very active members at St. Anne.
We have a lot of decision making to do, but I am leaning heavily towards taking the semester off. I am exhausted after 5 years of undergrad. I think it would be healthy, but I still want to apply and have some direction and goals in my life. I think God gives us choices and will bless them. Ask for God’s blessings as we enter into this new, unknown phrase of life. I thought after college life would be more settled, consistent, and normal. I thought spending 5 years at a college would mean I could 1) use my degree and 2) actually have a job I enjoy. It turns out that that is not always the case. As disappointing as that is, I know that God is good and loves mankind. And as Father told us tonight, we cannot know how these things will work out. We are driving with our eyes forward into a heavy fog, but He will guide us. He will open doors for me to become a priest if He has truly given me this passion and desire for it.
All things work for the good of those who love Him. He will not abandon us to despair though we face it. He has brought me through Hades and back in my young life of just 25. He has not left me in despair nor has He abandoned me. Not once! He has brought us into that reality of which we become aware when we sing. We shall move forward in some fashion. Your prayers, lighting of candles, and thoughts are appreciated.
We shall sing our hearts out in hard times and bad. There is a transcendence to our singing. We are lifted from our sorrows to the sky, to Reality. As we face this hard time of the unknown, I want to encourage others to join us in song. Let us transcend the messiness of this life. Let us come to Reality. Let us lift our hearts out in song. May our lives be lived out in song both figuratively and literally (for those with the talent). Connor Oberst of Bright Eyes once sang, “I don’t know what tomorrow brings. It is alive with such possibilities. All I know is I feel better when I sing. Burdens are lifted from me, that’s my voice rising!”
You can sing or remain quiet, but as Bright Eyes sings, “It’s cool if you keep quiet, but I like singing.” I am going to sing and be lifted.
If you too have the burden of the unknown, are in hard times, are in the depths of despair and angst let go and sing, friend. We can sing together.