My6inchchallenge's Blog

Tackling difficulties and overcoming the challenges life serves up – by Dona Halliday

Archive for singing

Soul Searching — reaching for knowledge in music, life and love

If we fail to search, to embrace, we can miss so much.

Searching … Music, Life, Love

“… Nev – er treats me sweet and gentle the way he should, I got it bad and that ain’t good … now when the weekend’s over and Monday rolls around I end up like I start out  just crying my heart out, he don’t love me like I love him…”

I was lost in the sweet crooning of Louis Armstrong’s husky confession of having love bad but it was not good. This is no indirect confession of unrequited love on my part but it’s more a response to a criticism a friend threw at me — He said I have no SOUL. When I asked him to explain he said that I knew nothing of the music of our people and he started tossing out the names of singers and their songs which indeed I knew nothing about.

Since I realized there was truth in what he said, it made no sense to get upset. Raised on the island of St. Kitts, surrounded mainly by what we called “christian” music; and calypso, which Christians really were not supposed to sing, I can’t say Sam Cooke, James Brown or even Aretha Franklin was on my horizon. I remember after my mom returned from Puerto Rico with records by Jim Reeves and Tom Jones my “christian” genre expanded to include songs like “Put your sweet lips a little closer to the phone, Am I that easy to forget, I can’t stop loving you, Delilah,” and my all time Tom Jones favorite “Without Love.” Definitely not the soul my friend was talking about.

I’ve discovered it best that if I don’t know something not to pretend, but to seek opportunities to learn. As a result I was delighted when I saw this little jewel at the library, a play-a-way of the “Harlem Renaissance Remembered,” maybe not the soul he was referring to but in my mind as good a place to start as any.

After exploring for the past 3 weeks I’m completely in love with these beautiful, brilliant minds with their skilled, colored words. For when they write, speak or sing I not only hear but see their emotions, feel their pains, experience their challenges,  support their determination and feel inspired by their gifts. I became that man on the rickety stool playing that sad raggy tune like a musical fool, in Langston Hughes poem “Weary Blues.” I told Louie how beautiful I thought he was as he moaned “Black & Blue” wailing that his only sin was in the color of his skin. I took to the floor and found myself giving the rhythm every little thing I had as recommended by Ella Fitzgerald in “It don’t mean a thing,” Who were these people so skilled in their craft with the ability to give life to words and paint them with the right emotional hues? I had almost missed knowing them.

I understand we are shaped by our environment, upbringing and culture, but if we allow these things to become reasons to build barriers, walls that divide, we can miss so much. I’ve always wondered why the need for sameness, why the need to look like others or offer acceptance only when others look like us? Why do we exchange our uniqueness to become invisible – to just blend in? Why does our idea of beauty lack color?

After some soul-searching, I realize there is so much to know, to embrace, to love, so much life to live, so many things to experience. This is Dona Halliday challenging you as I challenge myself to discover what is special about the people who cross your path, celebrate them, then further beautify your world by being  your unique self.

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Whispering, heart two heart

My heart whispers, “Hope — stay true, hold tight,”
My heart whispers, “Peace — don’t give in, the end’s in sight,”
My heart whispers, “Trust — be still, you’re secure,”
and when all is silent,

YOUR heart whispers….

Child, remember hope in me will not cause shame,
Persevere! My peace will outlast all pain,
I will save you, you will not fall,
You are safe when you trust in me.

Then my heart sings, hope in place of despair,
Peace, though chaos hovers near,
Trust, I hold it so dear
It’s my confidence,

that you are my hope….

I Want To Live Like My Sunday Morning’s Praise

The drums rumbled, softly, then with increased fervor. The room seemed to shake with the shouts of praise. It reminded me of the shouts that brought down the walls of Jericho, the kind of shouting that captures heaven’s attention and causes God to respond — there’s SOMETHING about that Sunday morning praise.

Cries and shouts of victory and thanksgiving, the release from what may have troubled us that week, that morning, that minute. The surrender and peace that comes from focusing on someone more powerful. The joy that washes and refreshes. The love that softens us and makes us sweet, forgiving, and frees our hearts and arms to reach out and embrace. I WANT TO LIVE like that Sunday morning praise!

In a short while, the music will stop, the singing cease, the sermon will be over and the prayers will end. We will be heading back to our everyday lives. Many will be forced to face the realities they had escaped for a few hours. They’ll remember the sickness that has invaded their bodies, their marriages that have fallen far below their expectations, the failure they feel because their children are making unwise choices, the weariness of taking care of a sick loved one, the boredom of seemingly purposeless lives. WHAT WILL HAPPEN to that Sunday morning praise?

For you see, that Sunday morning power, is also Monday morning’s power. In fact, this everyday power is a transforming kind of power. Walls come down, seas roll back, sightless eyes see, lame legs leap, a woman caught in adultery receives forgives, a man living among the tombs gets his mind restored;  and, you and I, in the face of our challenges receive the power that changes our lives. FOR WE’VE GOT TO LIVE like our Sunday morning praise!

If you are there, so is God

I’ve been labeled as being directionally challenged. I get lost just about everywhere I go in Metro Atlanta. I once went to pick up my brother from the airport — a 10 minute trip — over an hour later I pulled up to where he stood waiting, I had gotten lost, he was not pleased. However, when I start longing for sand between my toes and the sound of the ocean I’ve gotten in my car and headed off by myself hundreds of miles away and never worry about getting lost.

Some years ago that longing for the ocean took me to Destin, Florida. I rented a condo on the beach so that I could take early morning walks, commune with God and enjoy nature. That Sunday, on one of my walks I heard singing, I hurried in its direction, there on the beach I found a treasure — Church, out in the open, away from its normal enclosed structure, people had gathered, the act of worship was taking place — and God was there.

I’m excited about worshiping with hundreds of others tomorrow at the WOFLC, but I’m reminded that God is wherever we are. I’m amazed at how many acts of teaching, healing and restoration took place in ordinary spaces, (on the mountain side, by a pool, in the graveyard, in homes, along the road, on the shores) as long as Jesus encountered faith in Him, change took place. Many sick and hurting people sort him, crying out for mercy, asking for help, but he was also actively seeking those who needed him as well.

His “need to go through Samaria” brought about a life transforming experience for a woman whose life-choices had shamed her and made her an outcast in her community. His passing through Jericho connected him with a wealthy tax collector named Zaccheus whose life was renewed and priorities and goals altered after he met Jesus.

Are you hurting, sick, alone, outcast, bitter, angry, afraid, anxious, lost — Jesus is there, yes, there, where you are. Turn to Him in faith and tell Him about it, he will listen and act, because He cares.

Love-speak to my ancestors. Enduring the Challenges of Slavery

Living through the Auction-block experience

I feel like whispering. I’m so awed by you. I’ve lived your stories through the writings and reenactment of others,  yet it’s so hard for me to grasp your life–what you endured, how you lived, how you survived. I don’t know what it feels like not to matter, not to have my person-hood acknowledged, not to have others realize that I have dreams and hopes, thoughts and ideas–that I have a place in the world.
But you remained strong. You overcame. You understood that though your bodies were  enslaved your minds were not. So you dreamed your dreams and looked for the hope of freedom in your life or the life to come.

I feel like weeping. I can’t imagine being counted with live-stock. Being whipped instead of encouraged, being branded instead of having my own identity. When you stood on the auction block, completely exposed and vulnerable–stripped not only of your dignity, but of the God-given gift of choice–What were you thinking? How did you endure the humiliation?
When your children were taken and sold, you sons disfigured, your husbands lynched, your daughters raped–How did you keep going, singing, hoping?

I feel like dancing. I’m here because of you. I’m strong because you were strong. I’m persistent, a dreamer, I’m proud, dignified, beautiful, intelligent. A thinker, an innovator…
And there are so many others you would be proud of: mothers, fathers, laborers, teachers, preachers, doctors, judges, authors, poets, inventors, businessmen and women, designers,  athletes and entertainers, officers of law and even presidents. We’re so proud we are a part of you.

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