Soldier Songs is Available

I am happy to announce the release of my newest musical project, Soldier Songs.

SoldierSongs_CoverIf you would like a digital or CD copy, or just take a free listen, you can do it all at RustinSmith.BandCamp.com.

If you would like to support this project, you can:

  1. Buy a copy!
  2. ‘Like’ my Facebook music page to help spread the word. (I’ll update you about performances and future projects there.)
  3. Review it at iTunes
  4. Come to a show (see #2)
  5. Send me a comment and let me know what you think!

 

Now to Practice

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front
by Wendell Berry

Spring

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more
of everything ready-made. Be afraid
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know.

So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord.
Love the world. Work for nothing.
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it.
Denounce the government and embrace
the flag. Hope to live in that free
republic for which it stands.
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man
has not encountered he has not destroyed.

Ask the questions that have no answers.
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.
Say that the leaves are harvested
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.

Put your faith in the two inches of humus
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion – put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come.
Expect the end of the world. Laugh.
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts.
So long as women do not go cheap
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep
of a woman near to giving birth?

Go with your love to the fields.
Lie down in the shade. Rest your head
in her lap. Swear allegiance
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos
can predict the motions of your mind,
lose it. Leave it as a sign
to mark the false trail, the way
you didn’t go. Be like the fox
who makes more tracks than necessary,
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

- from The Country of Marriage, copyright © 1973 by Wendell Berry

The Feast of St. Francis

“No one is to be called an enemy, all are your benefactors, and no one does you harm. You have no enemy except yourselves.“ –St. Francis of Assisi

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is doubt, faith.
Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is darkness, light.
Where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.
Amen.

The Temptation of Power

“What makes the temptation of power so seemingly irresistible? Maybe it is that power offers an easy substitute for the hard task of love. It seems easier to be God than to love God, easier to control people than to love people, easier to own life than to love life. Jesus asks, “Do you love me?” We ask, “Can we sit at your right hand and your left hand in your kingdom?” (Matthew 20:21). Ever since the snake said, “The day you eat of this tree your eyes will be open and you will be like gods, knowing good from evil” (Genesis 3:5), we have been tempted to replace love with power. Jesus lived that temptation in the most agonizing way from the desert to the cross. The long painful history of the Church is the history of people ever and again tempted to choose power over love, control over the cross, being a leader over being led.”

- Henri Nouwen, In the Name of Jesus, 59-60

Anyway

People are often unreasonable, illogical and self-centered;
Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives;
Be Kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies;
Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you;
Be honest and frank anyway.

What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight;
Build anyway

If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous;
Be happy anyway.

The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow;
Do good anyway.

Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough;
Give the world the best you’ve got anyway.

You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and God;
It was never between you and them anyway.

(A poem hung on a wall in a Calcutta orphanage founded by Mother Teresa)

St. Johnny & the Artist’s Pilgrimage

” …we have to awaken, to think thoughts beyond the thoughts we have already thought. To get back, we have to get this, to get now: to receive the present activity of God in our midst. To get this is to take all we can know of the past and hold it out in contrast to this moment. Then we can begin to sew together what is essential of who we have always been with what will connect in the present.”

This is a pull quote from an article I wrote for the September/October issue of Immerse Journal.   I developed some themes I have spoken about previously for the article around the idea of the cruciform journey of an artist.

Artist, broadly conceived, of course.  I pastor a church, but I learned most of what I know about being a pastor from being an artist first; and in a way I think pastors are the truest artists we have left in our culture.   In a larger sense, every human is an artist, a creative being made in the image of the Creator.   And if you begin to engage life, work, and relationships as art, you may soon learn what artists know, that there are forces at work in the process that will stifle, derail, and distract you from ever making great art.

I hope my article can provoke you (as it does me) to consider the process of recovering not only an artist’s approach to life, but a pathway for dwelling richly in the deep down things.

It was a pleasure and honor to write for Immerse Journal.  I urge you to subscribe.  I’m grateful to Mike King for the invitation to write.   And as usual, I learned more in the writing than you will in the reading.  So read my article, then write yours.

You can (for not much longer) still preview my article in full at the Immerse site.   There are also a couple great reflections to the article in the “culture” section of site.

Ask Me

Some time when the river is ice ask me
mistakes I have made. Ask me whether
what I have done is my life. Others
have come in their slow way into
my thought, and some have tried to help
or to hurt: ask me what difference
their strongest love or hate has made.

I will listen to what you say.
You and I can turn and look
at the silent river and wait. We know
the current is there, hidden; and there
are comings and goings from miles away
that hold the stillness exactly before us.
What the river says, that is what I say.

- William Stafford