I hope it's not presumptuous to think of Gail Suderman as a friend. But I do.
It's an odd thing to say. Gail lives thousands of miles away, I have never met her or spoken with her, and the odds are, I will never see her or speak to her. She has been reading my blog for years, as well as my books, sharing my comments with other people. Once in a while, she posts a comment or sends me a message, her name is familiar to me, and in a positive way.
She is the Artistic Director of the Good Noise Vancouver Gospel Choir in Western Canada, as far away as one can get from Bedlam Farm and still be on this continent. My most quoted comment by her, she says, is "my life is not an argument." That is also one of my favorite comments, as many of you know.
I spent an hour listening to this wonderful choir today, there is a remarkable video posted of them singing on YouTube. To listen to this music is to be transported, perhaps even reborn a bit, it lifted my spirits up into the sky and left me speechless and near tears.
What an extraordinary honor to be mentioned in connection with this choir of angels. It choked me up. And on the tape, I got to meet Gail Suderman, who is much more famous than I am, and is the guiding spirit behind this much-loved choir. How remarkable that she is out there drawing inspiration from the Army Of Good. I think I might need to move out there.
As I listened to the music, I found myself praying that one day I will get to Vancouver and hear them sing. What a singular blessing that would be. Listening to this music, I thought, we are all refugees, bound together on the same trip.
My quote about arguing is controversial. it is not a view that is widely held, surely not on social media. It upsets more people than any other comment I have made, arguing other people's ideas and belief and hating them for disagreeing has almost become our national religion in America, when it is the very antithesis of true faith.
It is something of a lonely belief. If you listen to the Good Noise Choir, you may feel, as I did, what a sacrament really is, and how creative spiritual can be. The joy in their hearts come out in their art.
I thank Gail Suderman for grasping and sharing that idea, but listening to her music, I see that she is living it. I mean, really, what have all of these arguments that surround us done a single thing for the world?
A few days ago, Dorothy Siebert, a member of the Good Noise Vancouver Church messaged me to say the Army Of Good, which has graced many lives with its generosity and support here in recent months, was mentioned at a gospel concert she attended, one conducted by Gail Suderman.
The world can be a small and glorious place.
This philosophy about arguing changed and shaped my life this year, as it inspired me do good rather than argue about good, and behold, good is being done.
Gail sent me a beautiful message this morning, and I thought I should share some of it with you, I am a messenger for this Army, after all, you do the marching.
"I mentioned your “Army of Good” at my choir’s concerts in June as a preface to a song we sang. The choir’s name is “Good Noise Vancouver Gospel Choir” (Vancouver, British Columbia). I wanted to encourage the audience: when issues in this world seem so huge, so insurmountable at times, what is it that we can do each day to make a difference and not get caught up in the things that divide us. And I thought of the Army of Good, your Army of Good, and told the audience a bit about the work you were doing with the refugee children and the seniors at The Mansion, all being supported by small donations from many people who wanted to belong to that wonderful Army"
I think Gail said it better than I have said it, and she said it well. Our choice is to argue and be drawn to what divides, when what we can best do each day to make a difference in the world is not get caught up in argument or the things that divide us. I am not really going to try to change the world, simply touch the lives of people in ways that may seem small, but to them, are quite large.
In the Kabbalah, God contemplated the good deeds of the righteous, and drew forth light from within himself and delighted himself with holy people. In this bliss the power to create – the joyous songs of the Good Noise Gospel Choir – was born.
I can't comprehend the whole world or succumb to the overwhelming weight of the world's troubles. I can get help get Madeline an air conditioner and send the RISSE kids to see "Spiderman" this Saturday and help Devota pay off that misleading loan or get Mawulidi some carving tools so he can follow his bliss once more.
We are on to something. Look low, not high. Think small, not big. For the few, not the many.
I can't change the world, but I can do good rather than argue about what good is. We can lighten up some of the dark corners and fill in some of the holes in people's lives. It's not everything. It's enough.
Gail Suderman, thanks for bringing your heart and music into my life. I think we need to meet and I promised myself today that I will see you direct your wonderful choir one day.