January 15, 2011

a strange beauty... #reverb10

A few days ago, I happened to catch an interview with Simone Dinnerstein on NPR.  She has come out with an album that is an interpretation of Bach masterpieces for piano called "A Strange Beauty." The pieces themselves are wondrous and in the interview she talked about how she almost invisions them as jazz compositions.  The voices shift, there are notes that speak to her that are not a part of the melody, the little discrepencies that truly make these pieces different.

In the album notes, she quotes the scientist Sir Francis Bacon: "There is no excellent beauty that hath not some strangeness in the proportion." The most beautiful things are not those that are symmetrical and perfect, but that draw our attention, make us slightly uncomfortable until we settle within it, creates a holy and beautiful disturbance in our souls.

December 8 – Beautifully Different. Think about what makes you different and what you do that lights people up. Reflect on all the things that make you different – you’ll find they’re what make you beautiful. (Author: Karen Walrond)
So what is that about me?  What makes me a strange beauty?  What are the qualities that stick out like a sore thumb, and yet are the reason people draw close?

It is a hard question to think about. I often want to leave these qualities for someone else to name, but this whole process is about self-reflection, about seeing ourselves the way others see us.  So here is a list of what I have come up with:
My eagerness - foolish, naive, excited, passionate, unafraid.  I'm willing to dive in, raise my hand, say yes before I have a chance to think about it.  Part of this is my youth, but I think my congregation loves it in me because I inspire them to take chances as well.

My shoes - I have always loved shoes.  I remember these platform mary janes I had in high school.  Now, it is the red flats, the pointy toed, high heeled boots, the slip on suede privos... they share my personality for the day and are a conversation piece.

My inquisitive side - I always have questions. I always want to know more.  Maybe this makes me strangely annoying rather than strangely beautiful.

My ability to see gray areas - I find myself straddling the line between positions.  I see the pros and cons, but more than that, the passion and emotions with which people make their arguments.  I am a peacemaker, a negotiator, and because of this, I almost never have "the answer."  It is not for a lack of confidence in my position, rather my love and passion for the process that has led others to their own.

My voice that developed very late - I was never a good singer growing up.  My mom told me once that I was off key as we sang aloud in the car on a trip.  I'm not sure I quite got over the sting of that until I was much older... I loved to sing out loud, whether I was good at it or not.  In high school I took voice lessons, sang at competition, and never did well.  My upper range had not developed and I was a very sad second alto because my very lower range wasn't the best either.  Sometime in college/seminary, I found my voice.  This past year, I have sung solos twice in church.  I have found a confidence and a passion in my voice I never knew I had.  And I think the confidence is what makes my voice beautiful. I'm not afraid for people to hear me sing anymore.

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