Letter from Liz: July 16 2020
Worship: "Let us hum"
When she was in the kitchen, she would hum—not a steady tone, but entire melodies. Her humming was never soft and intimate, but loud and firm, as if she were humming for an audience. As a small child, if I knew the song she was humming, sometimes I would hum along with her, and my body would experience safety and settledness.” (p272, Resmaa Menakem, My Grandmother's Hands)
“Many Black bodies have proven very resilient, in part because, over generations, African Americans have developed a variety of body-centered responses to help settle their bodies and blunt the effects of racialized trauma. These include individual and collective humming, rocking, rhythmic clapping, drumming, singing, grounding touch, wailing circles, and call and response, to name just a few.” (p59, My Grandmother's Hands)
There are many things that have challenged, delighted, and informed me in My Grandmother's Hands, but one of the most intriguing ideas has been the ways that he talks about the physical and emotional benefits of humming. During COVID we are beginning to learn to worship in different ways, and one of the most frustrating restrictions is on corporate singing. So as Beth, our musicians and I have thought about ways of safely worshipping musically when we are back together, this intriguing idea of humming has taken root. Menakem is not alone in identifying the ways that humming settles our bodies and minds, and how this can all be a part of bringing our attention and focus to the God whom we worship. How lovely that we can still be tuneful, that we can still pay attention to words and rhythms and joyful cadences… and although we may not sing robustly together for a while, what fun to learn to hum our praises. So look out for invitations to hum coming from our worship team in the days ahead! “Let’s hum together as we worship God”.
You may also notice that we are now occasionally using pre-recorded songs for the offertory song. This is for two reasons: the first is to expand our access to genres, styles, cultures that we would love to see more represented in our community. We watch and sing and delight and hope and worship ... And, secondly, this is another way we are deliberately preparing for when we are together again in the Chapel and singing is difficult or impossible. SO - my advice to you is - SING LOUD NOW!!! Beth is going to tell us more about this as time moves on - so grateful for the ways she is shepherding us and our musicians though this season!
So what’s coming up?
This week - try humming! Here’s a fun clip on humming - preparing people for the stage: but could work for preparing to worship too! And when you are listening to worship music, why not put your hand on your tummy, or under your chin and ‘feel the hum’. Let your body settle, and focus on a phrase or portion of Scripture…. Here’s another fun little blog about the joys of ‘humming in the Spirit’
Amy is preaching again this week... did you listen last week? If not, catch up now and be ready for part 2! I so hope you were able to make "at least 5 minutes" each day this week to relax into God's presence.
Meanwhile - I'm humming my way around Maine this week... but wrote this before I left! So hope you are having some moments of humming too,
Your well-rested pastor (I hope!)
Menakem, Resmaa My Grandmother's Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies. 2017.