In Search of Lent Songs

Unlike was the case when I was searching for Advent songs a few months ago, I don't feel like I ever have to go digging very far to find good songs for Lent. On the contrary, just about any collection of sacred music is going to have songs that fit this season, so I wasn't planning on putting together a list.

But as we're now a couple of days into Lent, I find myself wanting to be able to pull up good stuff to listen to like I did during Advent. It added something to have music readily available that helped me settle into the themes of the season. So, why not? Here's a list-always-in-progress of some of my favorites. Feel free to listen along, and add your own suggestions in the comments below.

In Search of Advent Songs

I want songs that help me wait on God during Advent. After writing Wait a few years ago, I came across some songs by Andrew Peterson that express some of the themes of Advent (which I characterize in the book as Advent past, present and future) as as well as anything I’ve ever heard, and so I want to find some more. As I suppose is fitting with the nature of the season, such songs about waiting on God are probably a bit hidden—often tucked in the corners of some Christmas CDs or other places that are less obvious.

So I’m creating a playlist on Spotify of my favorites, and I’m looking for others to add to it (because as it is right now, the playlist is too short for me to rely on to be my own one-stop-shop for all of my Advent listening needs). Anyone have suggestions? Feel free to listen along this Advent, and if you have a suggestion of a track to add, post it as a comment, por favor.

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In Memory of David Strieff

A friend who came into my life through the Transforming Center passed away this week, and as I've been reflecting on my relationship with him, I wanted to write here to try to express something of why his friendship was a gift to me.

As part of the Transforming Community experience (which I describe as having saved my life), I wrote quarterly reflection papers. These weren't academic papers, and they weren't for grades. Rather, they were a space in which I could reflect on teachings and readings from the quarter and how they intersected (or sometimes, crashed into) with my life as I was experiencing it.

My two years in my initial Transforming Community experience were difficult ones, as within those two years and the months following I made drastic (and drastically needed) changes in my lifestyle and my approach to ministry, and I lost my dad to cancer.

In the context of those difficult years, I needed the space provided by those reflection papers to wrestle with things. I needed to reflect honestly on my life as I had been living it, why I was not on the road to becoming the kind of person I wanted to be, and how I might be able to reorient my lifestyle around my desire to live a more genuine life with God.

Each person in a Transforming Community who writes those reflection papers is matched with a reader who shares their journey through the two years, asks a few questions to deepen the reflection, and offers encouragement along the way. My reader was David Strieff.

David was reading my reflections before I began to discover spiritual direction, and he accompanied me well. As I wrestled, he was there alongside me. He was encouraging to me in those years, and in the years afterward whenever we would see one another or exchange emails.

Because he accompanied me well, I felt it to be such an honor when I later had the opportunity to be a reader for others going through their Transforming Community experiences. Accompanying others through those reflection papers was a major factor that led me to want to pursue spiritual direction training. And now, as a spiritual director, I'm constantly trying to be attentive to ways that incorporating some written reflection into spiritual direction can help to deepen our attentiveness to God.

And with David's death this week, I've realized how much of the richness of my journey during the past eight years can be traced back to those papers. I am glad that I still have my copies of them with David's handwritten responses. I am glad to have memories of his deep voice, warm smile, and strong hugs. And I am glad that Transforming Community gave us the space to share our journeys and become friends.

O God of grace and glory, we remember before you this day our brother David. We thank you for giving him to us, his family and friends, to know and to love as a companion on our earthly pilgrimage. In your boundless compassion, console us who mourn. Give us faith to see in death the gate of eternal life, so that in quiet confidence we may continue our course on earth, until, by your call, we are reunited with those who have gone before; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
— The Book of Common Prayer