Song of the South: I Need You to Survive

In thinking about my recent Southernisms post on y’all as the tao, or deep wisdom, of southern life, a memory came back to me while hiking the trail behind my home: Standing, with a group of folks from all races, various classes, a mix of sexualities and gender identities, holding hands in a little rented space singing the following song together in rural Robeson County:

“[Chorus: x2]
I need you
You need me
We’re all a part of God’s body
Stand with me
Agree with me
We’re all a part of God’s body
It is his will that every need be supplied
You are important to me
I need you to survive [x2]

“[Vamp:]
I pray for you
You pray for me
I love you
I need you to survive
I won’t harm you
With words from my mouth
I love you
I need you to survive
[Repeat until director’s signals for next part]

“[Sopranos:]
It is his will that every need be supplied
You are important to me
[All:]
I need you to survive”

 

This song was the final song each Sunday at an experiment in community and bridge-building I was a leader in, called the Church of the Painted Sky.   We tried, in our stumbling way, to build a community that deeply felt and practiced the call to let our difference not be a barrier but a bridge toward deeper community — for in each person, Christ’s light uniquely shines.

The words of this song were our church’s heart cry, for each who came deeply knew what it was to be rejected and found the joy in embracing each other as ones whose uniqueness brought gifts of life, love, and healing to the world.

In Christian terms, this hope is at the heart of the idea of the mystical body of Christ: that the Christ is not far off in the sky, but found in each person who, together, are Christ’s body in the world.  So to reject another for being different or to cling too tightly to your own rigid individualism and thus reject community with those who are different is to reject the living Christ in the world.

This truth is understood differently in other world faiths, but still true.

In Hinduism we are seen as each a part of Brahman, the great Divine presence found in all things, with each being a manifestations of this one over soul, to badly butcher the theology.  In Buddhism there is an idea of interbeing, in which the lives of all people and of all living things are seen as intimately interconnected so that the fate of one is bound up in the fate of others.

In Judaism, there is a mystical idea of sacred truth as a precious beauty like a gem broken into parts that are divided, placed within the heart and soul of each person so that in order to find the deepest truth one must not just look within one’s self but deeply embrace each person you meet — for the fullness of truth is not the property of one person, but expressed in the beauty and truth found in all lives being embraced as gifts and messages from God.

This all is the mystical truth at the heart of embrace there is no I without us, no you without y’all.  That we are intended to be people of deep community.  We are all intended to find our place at the long family table together.  Let’s keep a seat there for each person.  Only together can we have the rich meal together that allows true celebration.

Let’s keep that space open.

Your progressive redneck preacher, wishing y’all all blessings!

Micah

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