Over the course of the pandemic, we have all discovered personal limits that we may not have known about before. For example:
- As a person who lives alone but loves comfort food meals that do not reduce to one serving size very easily, I have learned that I can eat chili four days in a row, but not five.
- I can walk the same 5k path for two weeks before I have to change it up.
- My Zoom limit for a day is about four hours.
- I can go three days without seeing another person in person.
- I can go three weeks without fishing, but watching A River Runs Through It adds another week.
You get the point.
But I have discovered one limit that I never even thought was possible: I can only exclusively listen to Willie Nelson for four months. Who knew that there was such a thing as too much Willie? I listen to music quite a bit, whenever I’m walking, driving, cleaning, cooking, showering, etc. From April to July, I almost exclusively listened to Willie.
Then one day in August, I had enough, and I had to change to something else.
Since then, I have been trying to discover new artists. I’ve been asking friends for recommendations and going through all sorts of musical rabbit holes to find something new. Much to my surprise, there are plenty of folks putting out great music right now, and I am mad at myself for not finding these artists sooner.
If you have also discovered your equivalent of my Willie Nelson limit, you are in luck. For this Lenten season, the FPC staff has put together a playlist for you to listen to.
Pastors and other staff members sent in their recommendations for music that reflects both the general theme of Lent and our specific theme of “surely the Lord is in this place.” The result is an eclectic playlist that spans all sorts of genres, styles, and eras. It has been more than enjoyable to curate this playlist for FPC, and I have added plenty of names to my list of new (to me) artists to listen to.
Of course we hope that you enjoy the playlist — it has many of our personal favorite songs on there. But more than that, we hope that it serves as a sort of spiritual discipline for you this Lent, and that you find greater meaning in your listening. Use it for prayer or meditation. Explore how these songs take you along the journey to the cross and to Easter. Take notice of which songs resonate the most with you, and if those songs change from day to day.
Here are some of my suggestions for listening exercises to get you started:
- Listen to “Crowded Table” by the Highwomen — reflect on how desperately we wish to have crowded tables again. What will our table(s) look like when “everyone belongs?”
- Listen to “What a Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong and “Paradise” by John Prine back to back — wrestle with them and put them in conversation. How can we affirm that God’s handprint is all over the creation that God called good, while also recognizing that we have harmed that creation and “are too late in asking” if we can ever go back to paradise?
- Listen to “Shine” by Leon Bridges — on Ash Wednesday, compare this song with Psalm 51, a common text for the beginning of Lent. How does God’s forgiveness enable us to be God’s vessel and “shine like the candle?”
- Listen to “Jesus Boogie” by Sturgill Simpson — as Good Friday draws nearer, join Simpson in exploring the last words of Jesus on the cross and Psalm 22.