Many of my songs emerge from a deep connection with another person. I’m inspired let them know what I see in them through the vehicle of song.
Nearly twenty years ago, I created a song for my friend Molly in collaboration with pianist, Diane Benjamin. Molly was just turning sixteen and was grieving the recent death of two close sister-friends in a car accident. I couldn’t imagine how it was for her to walk through such calamity so young. As one of the “aunties” in her community, I felt called to hold up a mirror to the beauty and strength I saw in her.
She’s the voice of the bell
She’s the heart of the lion
A dance of green willow on a dusky breeze
In her eyes I see the centuries knowing
And whatever she looks at
I know she sees
I presented her song to her at her birthday celebration that year and eventually recorded it on a CD (you can hear it here). Her mother Diana asked to learn the song so she could sing it for Molly any time. Now Molly hears her song on every birthday. It’s become part of the family’s ritual for celebrating her.
She’s walked unflinching
Through the doorways of darkness
With tender strength that travels long
Her face is full of a young girl’s secrets
But her life it is singing a woman’s song
I often perform this song for women’s groups as a way to acknowledge and celebrate the young girl in each of us. Who among us has received the kind of witness and support we needed when we were teenagers? The song often opens women to healing tears. Many of them bring the song home to share with the young women in their lives.
Good company for your every journey
Sweet rain to nourish all your trees
Your heart’s desires and the grace to receive them
These things and this song –
Your gifts from me
There is a greeting in the Zulu language – sawubona – which means, “I see you.”
Is there a more beautiful and generous way to acknowledge a fellow human being? Is there anything we yearn for more than being deeply seen and appreciated by another person?
I hope Molly continues to feel seen whenever she hears her song. And I hope that the girl in your life – whether it’s you or someone you know – can see her true beauty through this music.