The Gray Havens Interview

Dave and Licia Radford, known musically as The Gray Havens, are making the kind of music you don’t know you need until you hear it. There seems to be such need for story to infuse the artistic expression of the Church these days. The narrative arc imposed by the Gospel and subsumed throughout everything is far too easy to ignore when art becomes an industry. Into this many-pooled river of truth-telling sub-creation step Dave and Licia with this year’s stellar release, She Waits.

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Over Heard

My daughter’s dance class:
A brave octet of blue-clad torsos, all
Delicate and strung tight with snare drum ribs.
They gallop like crabs

Gone dizzy with light.
A lone piano chord sends them spinning.
We’re born from beneath a throb of human
Song. We hear sound raw,

Drink it in gulps, and
Wheel away laughing.

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Instead of a Silver Spoon

The cat in the cradle
stole my tongue,
and I’ve been silent
ever since.

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On Not Being Dorothy Day

I have never liked New York til now. I hate standing close to people I don’t know. Or, I thought I did. During this visit, I loved the feeling of being a ghost, floating through the busy streets unnoticed and blurred, a swift blue brush stroke among many with no real definition. 

I love the importance given to art and architecture and beauty in a place of crowds and terrible smells—the feeling of beauty belonging to all, beauty meant to lighten and lift our heavy earth, beauty as respite. 

We live in a fairly rural Florida town, very typically suburban. Our parish church could not be arrived at on foot by anyone other than the priest; it’s not near any homes. Life doesn’t circle around it. We show up by white SUVs and park in a lot five times the size of the building. I haven’t spent a lot of time in cities. I had not noticed before how in a city, the parish is in the middle of the people, and the people of the neighborhood belong to the parish, Catholic or not, members or not. The parish in the city is a halfway house of hospitality and a help for the area and neighborhood. Where I live, in suburbia, a parish is a choice made by the upscale based on the relevance of the music and the children’s programming offered. In the city, it seems less of a choice and more a place that belongs to all, like a local urgent care for the soul or a community center for those near. 

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Abby Wheeler, Creator of Heartworks

Heartworks is a brand new, up-and-coming organization dedicated to serving the refugee and resettled population in Knoxville through art therapy classes, painting lessons, conversation, and relationships. Abby Wheeler is currently working closely with Knoxville Internationals Network.

ADAM WHIPPLE: So tell me how you got started. What was the impetus behind creating Heartworks?

ABBY WHEELER: Well, I have wanted to be a missionary since I was six years old. I went to college for intercultural studies at Johnson, and I met my husband, Matt. He has Crohn’s disease, so he cannot live overseas, because he gets infusions every six weeks. It’s like a $20,000 medicine every six weeks, if we didn’t have insurance…

ADAM: Yeah, and if you’re overseas, you’re dealing with whatever their government feels like healthcare should look like.

ABBY: Exactly, and just exposure to different things. So I thought, ‘Now I have no idea what I want to do,’ since this is literally since I was six years old. So, Kenny [Woodhull] was my professor at Johnson, and he helped me kind of explore what’s at the heart of my dream. I discovered that I really just wanted people of all ethnic and racial backgrounds, especially Middle-Eastern refugees, to experience healing and wholeness. And with my personal experience with art, I thought it was a great way to promote healing and wholeness.

ADAM: Is that where you wanted to go?

ABBY: Yeah, I went to Jordan for a summer, and I loved it. And then, I grew up taking art lessons since I was in third grade. All growing up it was my safe space.

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Canticle of Christmas – In Defense of the Church Choir

Church Choir - Randolph Caldecott 1875

After a lovely family Christmas gathering this year my father decided he wanted to watch a video of an old Christmas cantata from the church he ministered at for 29 years. I must admit there was a split second when I couldn’t believe we were going to put in an old VHS tape of a choir from years ago but we were all missing my mother and welcomed the opportunity to watch the joy on her face as she sang praises during her favorite time of year. I was immediately transported back to another time. A time where my mother was still with us lifting up her lovely voice to God. A time where my father could still walk as he jumped up on the platform to address his church. A time where a group of believers came together and embodied community. Where trusted friends stood near my mother, ready to help her if she lost her place due to her mind being effected from the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s. A time where a stool had been pulled up for a dear friend, waif thin and weak from cancer but still wanting to be part of the choir. A simpler and perhaps more joyous time. A time where community seemed to ring more true than what we call community today.

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Wounded Healer, A Divorce Observed – Part 3

Introductions matter.

In the exuberant craze to dive into a book or novel, we tend to negate Authorial intent and blow past a book’s Introduction and Foreword. Especially in more recent publications, they can be tedious and self reverential – thanking Jesus, the author’s Mother, and the myriad behind the scenes contributors who deserve enumeration and praise from the Author’s research. They can be the literary versions of Academy Award speeches.

However, in the best written Introductions and Forewords, Seminary taught me that the author’s narrative arc of the book is usually contained in the Introduction. Skip the Intro and you miss the Author’s whole line of thought. In the Introduction to Henri Nouwen’s The Wounded Healer, he explains:

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