I’ve thought for some time now, that the text “be wise as serpents and soft as doves” is very similar to saying “be active and be contemplative”.
Although much more cerebral and less contemplative statement, Karl Barth said it this way: “The Pastor and the Faithful should not deceive themselves into thinking that they are a religious society, which has to do with certain themes; they live in the world. We still need - according to my old formulation - the Bible and the Newspaper.”
This little chant, Eyes Open, Heart Open, recorded for the upcoming Meditation With Children album, (to be released on my son Francis’ 3rd birthday, April 27th, 2019), was written in the context of... chanting into balance, being street smart and being vulnerable enough to be kind.
I believe this fits into the world children live in, too.
As a songwriter and as a writer, sitting at that meeting point of “eyes open, heart open” is a lovely tension for creative energy to surge forth, and for imagining the "impossible", as all paradoxes tend to allow for.
We all struggle most, however, with keeping our eyes open and heart open, when looking at our own selves. Often what comes with the work of deconstruction, is a failure to see that what we are deconstructing is a part of how we too are programmed. We may have changed our political perspectives, or are working out how to name something wrong, but as Einstein famously said, "no problem can be solved at the same level of consciousness that created it". If we haven't begun to hang out in our own paradoxes, we can be pretty self-righteous. Or, as I've heard James Finley say many times, "it's true that all prophets are a pain in the neck, but it's also true that not everyone who is a pain in the neck is a prophet."
As we shift our perspective that God is not “out there”, we must also shift our perspective that the shadow is also not “out there”. In Alcoholics Anonymous, Step 4 is about “taking a moral inventory” of one’s own life, which is to say: look at your own shadow. So, this would be keeping our eyes open toward our own selves. And if anyone is familiar with those steps, as you spend time with them, there comes a moment of serenity, that moment when the heart opens in tenderness, even after facing powerlessness (which is not the same thing as disempowerment) and our own shadow.
Here is a sample track from the brand new master finalized this week from the Meditation With Children album. My collaborator Noel Keating, the author of the book Meditation With Children , did such a wonderful job speaking on this album. We both very intentionally sang and spoke, sort of holding mysteriously, the heart of each person who might hear it. It felt very precious and I look forward to sharing more of it with you.
And finally, many of you will be aware that Richard Rohr's new book The Universal Christ comes out on March 5th. I have been LOVING the podcast, Another Name for Every Thing, and all the wonderful content on the site built for the book. Watch all the videos. They're so wonderful. The video where Fr. Rohr is speaking to a group of young evangelicals reminded me of when I first heard him speak about Christ. Along with Denis Edward's wonderful book Jesus and the Cosmos, (which is chock-full of Karl Rahner's insights), Richard's insights inspired me to write the album Behold, I Make All Things New and to seek out great poets to collaborate with, as I put music to that hymn he mentions in Colossians. I am anticipating this book!
Alana Levandoski is a song and chant writer, recording artist and music producer, in the Christian tradition, who lives with her family on a regenerative farm on the Canadian prairies.