We are almost a week into Lent now, and many parishioners have taken a copy of Hope Sings, So Beautiful. They like it so much that some of them are buying copies for friends and relatives. On Thursday we will have a prayer service that will incorporate the song Strange Fruit, made famous by Billie Holiday, and a short passage from James Cone’s book The Cross and the Lynching Tree. As we move through Lent, remembering the suffering of Christ, we are called to contemplate the ways in which we participate in the suffering of others–whether we do it actively and consciously or passively and unaware–and to seek conversion of heart and mind and reconciliation with those we have harmed. The point is not to beat ourselves up, but to allow ourselves to let go of whatever keeps us from Christ. One of the beauties of Hope Sings is that it gently and thoughtfully points out some of the unconscious ways in which we live in a closed, limited world. It might not be active prejudice that is the problem but a lack of awareness. We can live easily without ever interacting with people who are different from us–racially, economically, politically. We may never know what we are missing out on because of our isolation. Encounters with musicians and writers such as Holiday and Cone are a window into other worlds. If we open enough windows, we can let in the light of day and a fresh breeze. We may even be inspired to take a walk outside and see the world in new ways, to see places we never noticed before.

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