During the past several weeks, our choir at church has been rehearsing [and just performed!] a beautifully challenging piece by Elizabeth Alexander, entitled Finally on My Way to Yes. The text is from a poem entitled, The Healing Time by Pesha Gertler. The music provided a perfect anthem as part of a service entitled “Letting Go in Order to Grow”.
Working on this music has brought back so many memories for me—as it has, in the composer’s own words, for herself as well as so many others:
Finally on My Way to Yes changed my own life more than any other single song I’ve ever composed. Pesha Gertler’s short, profound poem – almost a blessing – guided and challenged me into a new musical and emotional language. With ferocity and soulfulness, this song affirms that our lives are something to be cherished, no matter how many missteps and mistakes we have made, even if we have wounded ourselves or others. No one can hear that message often enough.
Everyone I share this poem with sees something different in the “scars” and “coded messages.” Members of the LGBTA choir for whom I composed this song heard their own “coming out” stories in the words. Other performers and listeners have heard the song speaking to their experiences with drug addictions, suicide attempts, self-mutilation, racial identity, and debilitating loss. Clearly, this poem taps into a deep something about what it is to be fully human.
Several years ago, as a born (and nurtured) “people-pleaser”, I had begun to tiptoe slowly into the healing waters of learning how to say “no” to people, things or responsibilities that no longer serve me. It’s been a long, slow process. I’m still not very good at “letting go”.
I am better able to discern what feels right inside and what does not. Although, I may not always change course immediately—and often don’t yet have a clue of what would be MY next best step.
I’ve also learned that sometimes saying no includes a period of “not quite yet”— seasoned with a bit of self-forgiveness. Needless to say, “patience” has also never been one of my strong suits. On the other hand, self-kindness has become a more comfortable robe to wear as I continue along my own journey of healing.
At the beginning of this same service, the choir began with a choral arrangement by Marjorie Herman of the first verse from the affirming hymn It is Well with My Soul.
When peace like a river, attendeth my way, When sorrow like sea billows roll, Whatever my lot, thou has taught me to know, It is well, it is well with my soul.
Performing both of these pieces of music—along with several other serendiptious happenings in my life of late—have served to affirm my current path. “Yes” is NOT a destination. The path itself IS yes.