Harmonizing Sadness and Joy [—at A Life Overseas]

5389355486_8ae3459399_oIn 2012 I wrote “Can Grief and Joy Coexist?” In light of our own recent sadness, I’ve adapted it and posted it at A Life Overseas. Go there to read it all (and to hear the song at the end.)

Let me add my voice to those who are praising Pixar’s Inside Out as a great movie for the cross-cultural community. I think we’ll be showing clips of it to expats, repats, and TCKs for a long time to come. (If you’ve not seen it and don’t know what it’s about, I suggest you read Kay Bruner’s discussion of the movie, from a counselor’s point of view.)

I hope that someday Inside Out is made into a Broadway musical. I’d like to hear Sadness and Joy sing a duet at the end.

Dealing with Loss

My wife and son and I saw the film in the theater a few weeks ago. It was rather cathartic, as the past several months have been a time for us, like Riley in the movie, to deal with our emotions—while our emotions learn how to deal with each other. It’s been an especially difficult time for my wife. Her father died in March, and then a brother died last month.

Those events have brought back memories of difficulties we faced while we lived overseas. During our time outside our passport country, we experienced the deaths of my wife’s mother and another brother and of my father.

When you lose loved ones, it can trigger so much emotional confusion. When you live far away from them, a whole other set of complications come into play.

It’s not just losing someone we love, it’s often losing the opportunity to say Goodbye or the ability to grieve together when traveling with the whole family isn’t possible.

When should we go back? Who should make the trip? How long should we stay? What if we don’t meet others’ expectations? What are the rules?

And when sadness comes into the life of the missionary, it is so easy to ask, “Where is my joy?”

Read the rest at A Life Overseas.

[photo: “Golden Hearts on Blue,” by Lea Wiertel, used under a Creative Commons license]



Page CXVI—Get All Their Songs for Free


As a followup to “Music for the Unsettled Soul,” I’m passing on the announcement by Page CXVI that they are making all their albums available for free download during the month of March. Their “Jubilee” giveaway celebrates the three musicians’ seven years together, both as The Autumn Film and Page CXVI.

The downloads, available here at Noisetrade, include 74 songs from 11 albums. The giveaway lasts till the end of this month.

Free stuff. Hard to beat.

[photo: “Old Piano Keys,” by Adam Henning, used under a Creative Commons license]

Music for the Unsettled Soul

I re4473073565_3871119347_nally, really, really like the music of Page CXVI (formerly The Autumn Film). This group of three is “re-imagining” classic hymns for new generations, and just by reworking the melody and tempo, they bring new meaning to old songs. My favorite is “Joy,” which I highlighted in a post about dealing with grief.

Maybe there’s a special place for their music in the lives of those facing cross-cultural transition and stress.  Adam, who (like me) travelled with his family from the corn fields of the American Midwest to a “city of millions” overseas, sent an email to Page CXVI last year, and they posted it on their blog.

Adam writes about a “journey of faith” that took him, his wife, and their two-year-old son to “a place where hearts are ripe for harvest but the fields have many fences,” a place where they faced many trials:

Financial difficulties, spiritual conflict, and multiple miscarriages deepened my desire for God’s presence but also created questions for which I did not have answers. There were many nights that seemed very dark. Not the dark you see, but the dark you feel when you don’t have peace. In the midst of our many struggles, I would sit and watch the city lights and listen to Page CXVI.

Adam first heard the band before he went abroad when they led worship at a missions conference he attended.  Then, when he flew to his new home, he carried with him some of the group’s music.

The slow movement of traffic and the colored lights did little to bring comfort when I would sit staring out my window, but the music, with its rich lyrics and calming arrangement, did something nothing else could. When the elements madly around me were raging, God used the music and through the music biddeth them cease, turneth their fury to peace.

Here are two videos of the group performing the hymns “How Deep the Father’s Love” and “Come Thou Fount.” In the third, they sing “Peace Like a River,” from their latest project, Lullabies.

In another video, Page CXVI – Explains the Deeper Meaning of Hymns, lead singer Tifah Phillips, née Al-Attas, smiles and says matter-of-factly, “I grew up in this all-Chinese church. . . .” I bet there’s an interesting story there. I’d like to hear more about her background, about how her cross-cultural experiences have affected her faith and creativity. Maybe her bandmates, Reid Phillips (her husband) and Dann Stockton have their own stories to tell.

Continuing on, Phillips talks about the depth of the hymn “Be Still, My Soul,” noting how the song deals with some important questions:

What does it really look like to trust God? What does it look like to trust God when you’re dealing with anxiety or fear or unrest . . . ? What does he offer us in return? Stillness and peace?

I think these are the kinds of questions that were on Adam’s mind when he looked out his apartment window. I think they are the kinds of questions that a lot of us have on our minds.

(Page CXVI’s web site explains that the group’s name refers to the 116th page of C. S. Lewis’s The Magician’s Nephew, where Aslan “begins to sing Narnia into creation out of a black void.”)

[photo: “Rain,” by Josef Stuefer, used under a Creative Commons license]