I have made epic journeys, competed in marathon races, battled and conquered fierce enemies, swum the oceans of the world – in my mind. Yes, like all of you who grew up reading under the covers, reading on the front of your dad’s motorbike, reading in the shower (did no one else try that?), I often see real life through the lenses of an epic story. This song is about an epic journey – well, actually, I wrote it in high school, it was about teenage struggles, which are always more interesting if you imagine them in terms of an epic story – a heroine setting her face like flint, “though the shadows grow so tall”, though adversaries “press her hard on every side”, for she knows this is true, in the present tense, no less: “the light has shone in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” John 1:5
The first time I performed this song was in 2005, with a friend from school. We were two teenagers dwarfed by a gleaming wooden stage, gravitating to the familiarity of the lone Klavinova piano waiting in the spotlight. The previous user of the piano had played havoc with the transpose button. The song started ridiculously low, ground to a halt, and was recommenced when the piano was de-transposed. Alicia Keys would have rolled over in her grave, if she had been in a grave – as it was, maybe she rolled over in her bed, many timezones away.
False starts notwithstanding, the wise men with the funny hair were right: “All you need is love.”
Thanks for listening!
I was asked to sing a song to a church of 15,000 people (don’t worry, only 5,000 people per sitting, no pressure) while we were in Rwanda. An honour and an opportunity, right? Well, I panicked, I worried. What could I say or sing that wouldn’t be just a drop in the ocean of Rwanda’s unspeakable suffering?
The moment came, I was beckoned on to the stage and donned StagePresenceTaryn, an immaculately poised professional. My inner palpitations infected the first line of the song with a slight tremor, but then the words began to flow, clear as a mountain stream.
“Why are you cast down, o my soul?/ Why are you struggling?/ The Lord has not forsaken you/ so put your hope in Him/ put your hope in Him!”
The attentive silence erupted. The crowd went wild! There was cheering, ululation, clapping, cries of “Amen!” and “Hallelujah!” I was so surprised I almost forgot to keep singing.
Maybe all anyone really needs to know is that God has not forsaken them.
Thanks for listening,
(Posted on Easter Sunday, in celebration of the most Beautiful Day in all of history)
This song is the soundtrack to my life.
“The heart is a bloom, shoots up through the stony ground”.
My father bought me a U2 album when I was about ten, as part of my musical education. I cranked up the volume on my headphones, and tried to play drums to it. Unfortunately for the neighbours, I did not know how to play the drums. Fortunately for me, I couldn’t hear what I was playing.
“You thought you found a friend to take you out of this place
Someone you can lend a hand in return for grace”
There were days in high school when trouble in my family weighed like the world on my shoulders. Peter would prance up and warble “It’s a beautiful day! Don’t let it get away!” He was right.
“See the bird with a leaf in her mouth/
after the flood all the colours came out”
After our wedding ceremony, we walked demurely down the aisle to the serene notes of the Wedding March, which suddenly morphed into ‘Beautiful Day’! We would have broken into dancing and leaping and running if the aisle was longer.
“What you don’t have, you don’t need it now”
Here we are, on a beach in Wales, forgiven, grateful, joyous. It really is a beautiful day.
What makes a life extraordinary? I wrote this song with a tangle of question marks in my head, born of encounters with incredibly alive people with an incredibly deadly disease – AIDS. “Gotta live like no tomorrow” is as true for me as for them, I realised. The way I think about the rest of my life affects the way I live today. “So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12)
“Three letters and a mathematical sign / separating your future from mine” was my roundabout way of putting myself in the shoes of someone who was HIV+. I did spend a few moments panicking that people would actually think I had the disease. Then I got over it.
What do you think? What makes a life extraordinary?
Thanks for listening!