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Being Benedictine

Living the Rule of St. Benedict in Daily Life

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Music as Prayer

Love is Stronger, Human One

A Holy Week Gift from Alana Levandoski

Inspired to learn more about Mary Magdalene and especially by Cynthia Bourgeault’s book, The Meaning of Mary Magdalene, Alana Levandoski puts words and music to what she imagined in a journey with Jesus. See Easter through Mary Magdalene’s eye in song. Links below.

“In thanks to the example of Mary Magdalene, we won’t be hiding out somewhere waiting to see what happens. Instead, we can walk with Mary, who never left Jesus, through it all, and go to the very heart of this planet, reconciling all things, and come Sunday, find out that we are more involved in the resurrected presence than we think.”

-Alana Levandoski

I would know those feet

Anywhere

Like you would know mine

Human one

And it breaks my heart

To see them so

Like it would break yours

Human one

I feel helpless

You feel forsaken

But love is stronger

Love is stronger

You said follow

And I will follow

Wherever you’re going

I will go

There go those feet

Descending

And so will my feet

Human one

Into the heart of the world

Reconciling all things

I will hold fast with you

Human one

And all the hell that ever was

Has nothing on us

‘cause love is stronger

Love is stronger

You said follow

And I will follow

Wherever you’re going

I will go

What’s this I see

Your feet again

Here in our garden

Human one

But I cannot cling

The ripple’s gone out

Beyond the stars and back

Human one

But neither death nor life

Can separate us

‘cause love is stronger

Love is stronger

You said follow

And we will follow

Wherever you’re going

We will go

Human One directed, filmed, and edited by Alana Levandoski song written, performed, and produced by Alana Levandoski

Follow Alana on Facebook  https://www.facebook.com/alanalevandoski

Listening to the sweet and soulful songs of Alana Levandoski is prayer itself. I discovered Alana through the Center for Action and Contemplation and have used her contemplative songs and chants in retreats I have led and in my own prayer practice. Whether setting music to her own words, or lyrics drawn from poetry or scripture, her singing is elevated prayer.

Ring Out, Wild Bells, a poem sung by Alana, is a heartfelt, prayerful intention to ring out the old of 2020, a year of great challenges, and to ring in the new of 2021. The poem, In Memoriam, (Ring out, wild bells) was written during a time of grief, nearly 150 years ago by Alfred Lord Tennyson (1809-1892). The lyrics ring true for both letting go and welcoming in—letting go of the false, feuding, dying, grief, pride, partisan divide, and civic slander WHILE welcoming in the new, true, noble, sweet, pure, love, truth, light, and peace. Read more HERE.

The quest for peace and justice

We honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr—advocate for social justice, racial harmony and equality, civil rights and non-violent resistance. In his 1964 Nobel Lecture titled “The quest for peace and justice” he states

“Violence never brings permanent peace. It solves no social problem: it merely creates new and more complicated ones. Violence is impractical because it is a descending spiral ending in destruction for all. It is immoral because it seeks to humiliate the opponent rather than win his understanding: it seeks to annihilate rather than convert. Violence is immoral because it thrives on hatred rather than love. It destroys community and makes brotherhood impossible. It leaves society in monologue rather than dialogue. Violence ends up defeating itself. It creates bitterness in the survivors and brutality in the destroyers.”

Martin Luther King Jr., Nobel Lecture, December 11, 1964

Over five decades later, this week of the inauguration of our 46th President, the United States of America is reeling from the insurrection of January 6, 2021. It is also the date of Epiphany, celebrated in Christianity as the date Magi visit the Christ Child, recognizing that Divine Light has become incarnate in our world.

Americans are experiencing an epiphany of their own. Deep divisions that exist in our country have been made clear, brought from the darkness into the lightno doubt, as King stated, “a descending spiral ending in destruction.” How did we end up here? Surely most of us desire the “permanent peace” King spoke of, and yet here we are. I have no answers so I read and re-read the words of MLK and look to my faith for understanding.

I reflect on the opportunity I had last year to attend a concert of The American Spiritual Ensemble (ASE) at a local church—a concert to honor Martin Luther King Jr. with African American spirituals.  MLK wrote that spirituals “give the people new courage and a sense of unity. I think they keep alive a faith, a radiant hope, in the future, particularly in our most trying hours.” In his 1964 book Why We Can’t Wait, he wrote that civil rights activists “sing the freedom songs today for the same reason the slaves sang them, because we too are in bondage and the songs add hope to our determination that ‘We shall overcome, Black and white together, We shall overcome someday’.”

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The King Center, a living memorial to MLK, envisions a world where global brotherhood and sisterhood are not a dream but the state of humankind. 

Let this be our prayer today—

May we walk together as children of God, that we ease the suffering of those near and far from us, that we stand up for the oppressedthe poor, the marginalized, the downtrodden, the suffering. Let us pray, that through our efforts and the grace of God, that we shall overcome. May this week of Inauguration be peaceful and all involved be protected from harm. Amen.

Photo taken Inauguration 2017. A foggy day that accurately represented the uncertainty faced with a new President. I write about in The Road Ahead is Uncertain.

I write more HERE about the American Spiritual Ensemble, the importance of Negro spirituals and their impact on American music.

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ASE pics

A New Year Prayer: Ring Out, Wild Bells!

“Music is a higher revelation than all wisdom and philosophy. Music is the electrical soil in which the spirit lives, thinks and invents.”

― LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN

Listening to the sweet and soulful songs of Alana Levandoski is prayer itself. I discovered Alana through the Center for Action and Contemplation and have used her contemplative songs and chants in retreats I have led and in my own prayer practice. Whether setting music to her own words, or lyrics drawn from poetry or scripture, her singing is elevated prayer.

Ring Out, Wild Bells, a poem sung by Alana, is a heartfelt, prayerful intention to ring out the old of 2020, a year of great challenges, and to ring in the new of 2021. The poem, In Memoriam, (Ring out, wild bells) was written during a time of grief, nearly 150 years ago by Alfred Lord Tennyson (1809-1892). The lyrics ring true for both letting go and welcoming in—letting go of the false, feuding, dying, grief, pride, partisan divide, and civic slander WHILE welcoming in the new, true, noble, sweet, pure, love, truth, light, and peace.

(Image above taken at St. Jacob’s Church bell tower in Telc, Czechia)

Enjoy Alana’s new video of Ring Out, Wild Bells! And at the bottom of this post, learn more about Alana, how to find her music and some additional prayerful songs to start your new year.

Continue reading “A New Year Prayer: Ring Out, Wild Bells!”

Our (Piano Teacher) Family Tree Includes Beethoven!

Ludwig van Beethoven was born in Bonn, Germany in December 1770—250 years ago. A long-awaited celebration for music aficionados, over 300 concerts and other projects had been planned in Germany, and many others around the world, to celebrate one of the most performed of all classical music composers. Unfortunately, the pandemic resulted in events being postponed or adapted for a virtual audience.

This significant date, 250th birthday of Beethoven, was the nudge I needed to write the story of the family tree that includes my daughter, Jessica, as a direct descendent of Beethoven—as a piano player.

Jessica played piano from her Kindergarten year until she entered high school under the tutelage of Ceil Brown, 1953- 2010. Ceil learned to play piano from Marie Ducey, who she spoke of so highly. Marie Ducey took piano lessons from James Madison Tracy, 1837-1928.  Tracy and his wife established the Liszt School of Music in Denver in 1910, named in honor of his piano teacher, Franz Liszt.

Franz Liszt, 1811-1886, one of the greatest pianists of all time, a Franciscan lay associate, was known to have never charged his students for piano lessons. Liszt learned from Carl Czerny, 1791-1857, an Austrian composer, teacher, and pianist of Czech origin whose vast musical production amounted to over a thousand works. His study books are still widely used in piano teaching. And….drumroll, please….Czerny was trained by Ludwig van Beethoven.

Our family is proud to be in this distinguished family tree of musicians and lovers of music.

Jessica describes Ceil, her piano teacher, as patient, gracious and calm. Ceil was an extraordinary teacher who appreciated individual student strengths and abilities. I delighted in hearing the conversations between her and Jessica. Ceil treated her as person, not like a kid as so many adults can do. When Jessica did not like a piece of music Ceil had selected for her to learn, Jessica was not afraid to say it. Ceil would go to her bookcase and look for another piece. I remember one occasion when Ceil looked three or four times for music that would suit Jessica’s style and interest (in a 45-minute lesson!)

Continue reading “Our (Piano Teacher) Family Tree Includes Beethoven!”

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