Tuesday, March 24, 2009

What's In A Song?

In my last writing, if you can call it that, I made reference to a piece I wrote some time ago about being a creature of the forest. I have read more thoroughly through my journals and still I have failed to find it. As this long five-week month progresses and I have only posted two entries, I feel a certain sense of urgency or anxiety, a need to re-assert my desire to make the discipline of regular writing a reality. For me the forest beckons, that place where I most clearly feel the presence of God.

This past Sunday morning, Dan realized he’d forgotten the checkbook and it was his last opportunity to order Easter flowers in memory of Aunt Joan. Instead of attending the church’s adult forum, he decided to go back home during the education hour to retrieve the checkbook. My car radio is most frequently tuned to Minnesota Public Radio, so as he drove, he listened to Weekend Edition. It just so happened—you know, in the way I’ve come to believe it never actually just happens—there was a segment called “What’s In A Song?” in which American folk singer Connie Dover explained her song “I am Going to the West.”

Dan was excited to share this with me when he returned to church. First of all, I have been in love with Connie Dover’s music since I first heard her sing with the Celtic folk group Scartaglen on a Narada sampler in the early 90s. While I have not actively pursued a collection of her works, the unmistakable tone and quality of her voice and its accompaniment by simple, Celtic instruments, never fails to send a thrill of recognition and joy through me.

But it wasn’t just that. In the segment, they played the song, and in a voiceover the artist talked about the ideas and images that inspired it. She spoke of that need to commune with nature, that longing to become a part of the forest, rather than simply remaining an intruder. Dan said, “Essentially, Bek, she was describing exactly what you've talked about in the concept of 'joy in the longing.’”

I went to the MPR website to hear for myself. Connie Dover spoke of the American West, the mountains and the forests of Yellowstone. Although I have never seen this particular area, I related deeply to her description of the longing that being among the trees evokes. At one point she said that every time she goes west and sees the landscape start to rise, she experiences a “pounding heart and welling eyes” and I realized my own eyes were welling in response to the song and her words about it.

I get that feeling whenever I am in the woods, but especially on my way to the cabin in Michigan. As the car rolls northward and the landscape is absorbed by cool trees as far as the eye can see, my chest feels like it is literally expanding and I can almost hear a voice whispering, Welcome home! Welcome home!

I don’t wonder that it sounds a lot like Connie Dover.


  1. Bek,
    I hope you get to the woods soon, if even for an afternoon. I say Arc is calling! :) Or you can console yourself in knowing that MI is less than 5 months away... Hugs to you!

  2. Bek-

    I am so glad that you were able to hear that NPR segment on the Internet. That was really cool to hear on Sunday.



  3. Yup, "coincidences" are just too coincidental. :) I, too, find SO much peace in being surrounded by nature. Even a walk to the neighborhood park lifts my soul; and a few minutes on the swing is all the better. As the weather turns and the days lengthen, I find myself being drawn more and more into the outdoors - and while I can't play outside every day, even a few deep breaths in the cold morning air carries me for a while. Welcome home, indeed.