May 14, 2015

The Sacred Art of Telling it Like it Is—An Amy Winehouse Moment.

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“It’s our musicians and our artists who are the prophets of today because a prophet, biblically speaking, isn’t a fortune teller. A prophet is somebody who tells it like it is, who can hopefully see things the way God sees things to tell you how things really are as opposed to how people think they are.”

Rev. Máirt J. Hanley was talking about the art and music brought to the Dingle Union of Parishioners, and about Amy Winehouse going to Dingle, in particular.

It was a documentary I was watching and had to stop, pause and rewind until I got it all.

I can’t stop thinking about his words and how much I resonate to writers who tell it like it is.

My motto is: Write heavy—live light.

My writing is usually intense and because of that, I’m pretty mellow. I’m not sure who or how I’d be without writing.

With writing, the content can be “ugly,” but the process of putting truth into words is beautiful. It’s intimate and affirming and sacred.

Joyful even.

Not a Facebook “like,” but a your-words-pressed-into-my-skin-like-a-cookie-cutter-into-dough. I felt them and they became metal on my softness. You indented into me. That’s how I feel another’s idea, feeling or experience.

I’m not dogmatic about religion. I don’t have a one-sentence description of what spirituality means to me. Okay, I do—I’m a just-in-case Catholic (got baptized) and a wanna-be-Buddhist. That covers it.

Life is more sacred because of poetry, music and truth tellers. I’m clear on that. That’s what I know. It’s enough.

My feelings of connectedness, belonging and expansiveness are almost always through some art forum. It’s not the artist that’s entirely necessarily, though it’s wonderful when they too are inspired or inspiring, but the work they deliver can be magic.

Music or dance can touch me in places deeper and more ancient than the contents of my bones or marrow. The sacred slips in-and-on-and-over and through me. The sacred wakes me up or brings back to life or snaps loud when I’m about to go sleepy, numb or defended and buried deep.

My dancing around the living room and screaming at the top of my lungs in a car isn’t because I have a secret wish to be a singer. It’s the sensation of the percussion beating inside and traveling through me. I’m a drummer, a dancer and the dirt or dance floor pounded into that. That’s what I’m after.

Sometimes tears wash through me and other times it’s joy that is rinsed in to my skin.

For me, truth telling can be sacred, holy and radical and sharing can be as well as long as I go with what’s actually true and not what I wish was true or what would make me sound braver, better or more evolved than I actually am.

Raw and real and complex.

Songs can make me feel, at least for a moment, as though I’m living completely inside a moment of another human experience that I might not know without listening and hearing.

I crawl in a lyric and let a lyric crawl in me. It helps me remember other people are kaleidoscopes too and maybe I’ve been expecting them to be a pair of binoculars for me. It helps me remember to try to see the world from their view and not only to magnify my own.

It’s too easy for me to forget that in conversation or conflict or day-to-day busy.

Music helps bring me back. So does dance. And poetry.

When that happens it’s wonderful and the art can be centuries old or brand new and recent. It only matters that it touches down, and in, and then spreads and lingers.

I read Amy Winehouse was watching YouTube videos of herself the night she died. I wonder what she was thinking? I never listened to her when she was alive for no reason other than I didn’t.

I read she was on and off drinking the last 18 months of her life working her way towards abstinence. What a sad and tragic way to die. At least it seems that way to me. I can’t claim to say I understand or get the reason for a death such as hers.

At least I get to discover her now. Still. All this time later and her music can stir me and I can feel her even though she’s no longer alive.

That’s a mystical gift and makes her timeless. The gift of her art gets the last word—not her demons.

Art, telling it like it is. It doesn’t say that only some in certain costumes or uniforms get center stage or to lead the parade.

So happy for the reminder…

I leave you with a little from that documentary with a song from Amy Winehouse at the end:



Relephant read:

Why Telling the Truth is So Hard.


Author: Cissy White

Editor: Travis May

Photo: Video Still

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