Music and the Mystics (and some exciting book news!)

If you're reading this, you've stuck with me despite the fact that I've reneged on my promise to update my blog every week. Perhaps I should've said once every season instead. We have a new baby, we've changed jobs, moved states, and bought a house. And, in my scant nap time hours, my book is slowly making its way toward you, its readers.

Who has time for blog updates when the trees look like this?

Who has time for blog updates when the trees look like this?

So, thank you for sticking around and understanding. In this post you'll find some of the music that influenced me in the writing of Mystics and Misfits and some exciting book news. Mystics and Misfits: Meeting God Through St. Francis and Other Unlikely Saints releases April 17, 2018. In the meantime, if you can't wait, go over and pre-order it on amazon or at Mennomedia.  

Songs for the misfit in you:

1. Sandra McCracken, from Psalms, Song: all of them, particularly Send out your light;

 "Then I will praise him with my guitar, oh my joy, my joy." 

2. The Benedictines of Mary, Queen of the Apostle, all albums, particularly Lent and Advent

Clear and lovely harmonies by nuns who sing together, sometimes for five hours a day. 

3. Sufjan Stevens, from Carrie and Lowell, Song: John my Beloved

Always a misfit, sometimes Sufjan's music evokes an ache so deep, I want to weep for him and his pain. Because his pain is all of our pain: the awareness of our need for the God who calls us beloved.

4. Bjork, Song: Wanderlust

Weird, wonderful, woeful, and often disturbing, Bjork's music should always be on a soundtrack for misfits.

5. Fiona Apple, from The Idler Wheel, Song: Every single night 

This song. I can feel the swirling thoughts in Fiona's head. 

6. Patty Griffin, from Downtown Church, Song: Move up

Patty Griffin should always be nearby. For any occasion. 

7. John Micheal Talbot, from The Lord’s Supper. Song: We shall stand forgiven

“Lord, have mercy”  I am not the one to ask if this 1979 album, which is basically a Eucharist liturgy, has stood the test of time. It’s opening violin on “Prelude” is part of the soundtrack of my childhood; I would lie on my back in our living room, listening to this record play, wallowing in the deep, angsty feelings it elicited in me. Talbot started an intentional monastic community and writes about my beloved St. Francis. This album is a glorious celebration of the Eucharist, in its beautiful Catholic hippie way.

8. My beautiful diamond, from All Things Will Unwind. Song: We added it up.

I hear a quieter voice, and it says Love binds the world, forever and ever and ever, love binds the world.” I can hear mystic Julian of Norwich, speaking in that quiet voice, a truth that was revealed to her in visions of divine love. Julian says, "I saw that He is to us everything that is good and comfortable for us: He is our clothing that for love wrappeth us, claspeth us, and all encloseth us for tender love, that He may never leave us; being to us all-thing that is good, as to mine understanding."

9. Rain for Roots, from Waiting Songs. Song: Come light our hearts

Even though it's an Advent album for children, I couldn't stop listening to it as Christmas passed and the new year began. These are messages of hope that we need in dark times. "For you, Oh Lord, our souls in stillness wait. Truly our hope is in you....We come as we are, oh heal and restore, come light our hearts."

10. Bruno Coulais, the soundtracks to The Secret of Kells and Song of the Sea. Song: Song of the Sea

Go watch these movies if you haven't already. My kids and I loved them and the question at the end of each viewing was, "Mom, why are you crying?" They are full of beauty, heartbreak, longing, and fantasy. I dare you to watch them yourself and not cry. 

11. Enya (and her sister Moya Brennan): watch them sing with their other sisters in their home church choir in Ireland

Enya's music has been the soundtrack to many important life events. 1)Years ago, when I was in college, I would crank up Enya as a passive-aggressive hint to my roommates when they were being too loud in the living room. My roommates still tease me about it.  2)When I was deciding whether or not to go to grad school in Scotland, it was an Enya song that decided it for me. 3)When I met my husband years later, we discovered a mutual love for Enya. 4)I walked down the aisle to the Song of David by her sister Moya Brennan (another favorite) in our wedding. 5)And when I was in labor with my babies, I listened to Enya. 6)Her music accompanied the labor of my writing this book too. 

Speaking of exciting book news...

I am thrilled to announce that author Jon M. Sweeney has written a lovely foreword to my book. The writer of dozens of books, Sweeney is perhaps best known as a scholar of St. Francis. Sweeney's writing has certainly inspired my own book: you'll find the evidence of his influence all over its pages. 

And I'm also excited that some wonderful writers are already sending in their endorsements for the book. Among them: both fantastic authors and friends Amy Peterson and D.L. Mayfield, gifted Catholic writer and writing teacher Kaya Oakes, professor, spiritual director, and author Marlene Kropf, and...wait for it...RICHARD ROHR! Yes, that Richard Rohr, author of Everything Belongs, Falling Upward, The Enneagram: a Christian Perspective, and Eager to Love. I almost fell out of my chair when I read his endorsement. It's quirky, generous, and kind, just like his writing. 

I can't quite believe that so many of the writers and thinkers that have influenced me in the writing of this book are aware of it and supporting it. It feels as though St. Francis himself might've prayed a blessing for me. I hope he wouldn't mind what I've written about him.