The Rev. Anthony C. Estes has been providing closing reflections for our Deep River series this year. Over the course of five weeks, we explored the power of African American Art Songs, a musical genre that is unfamiliar to many. Each program was a mixture of musical performance, artists in conversation, and small group discussion. At the end of each session, the group would reconvene for Pastor Anthony’s closing remarks and offering of prayer. Here are his words from March 10th, 2021. Additional context provided at the bottom of the page.
Reflection – The Rev. Anthony C. Estes, Associate Rector
Once, in a long season of personal tragedy, I stood around a thanksgiving table with my three sisters and my infant twin niece and nephew and recited Psalm 126:1, “When the Lord restored
the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream.” And I prophesied that better days would come, and that our nightmares would be replaced by dreams for a bright future and hope. All we had to do was keep climbing. Keep pushing. Remember that even when mothers and fathers forsake us, the Lord picks us up, like newborns left on the doorstep of the house that Eternal
Love built. Our prayers were answered. But for many black and brown people, the prayer is a plea against darkness itself. Sisters and brothers are just trying to figure out what to do with
their tears and their hair and their lips and their hips and their skin. And when they can’t talk about it, they write about it. They sing about it. They make art out of the hard stuff of life
lamenting and cursing the day and blessing the future. When Zion, God’s people are finally restored, all of life will be the stuff of dreams. But until then we voice the plaintive cries of children and dream the dreams of the Free.
God, the Mother and Father of all, who bore us in Creation’s womb, hear the cries of your
children for justice and love and peace. You anoint us to turn our sobs into songs and our
poems into prayers. Hear us. And help us to hear one another. Help us to turn crowns of thorns
into laurels. Give us the gifts we need to interpret and actualize our dreams, which are none
other than your dreams, that there may be peace on the earth. We ask this for sake of your
perfect plan and provision for all. Amen.
While the recorded performances from Deep River 2021 are no longer available, you can refer to the program as a reference point. Deep River March 10 2021
Prayer, by Langston Hughes. Musical arrangement by H. Leslie Adams
I ask you this: Which way to go? I ask you this: Which sin to bear? Which crown to put upon my hair? I do not know, Lord God, I do not know.
The Foundling, by Hall Johnson, was written in response to a newspaper story, about a baby left in a telephone booth at a grocery store, on a busy Thanksgiving.
Left on a door step, hungry and cold, young as your birthday, already so old. Nothing to know you by, nameless, alone;
Who brought you here to stay? Who are your own? Who is your father? Who is your mother, poor little stranger, fresh from above? Who could not want you? Who could not love you, poor little stranger, seeking for love? Rosebuds for fingers and diamonds for eyes. What are you telling me, looking so wise? Clutching my fingertip, holding my eyes, tell me this mystery straight from the skies.
“I know my Father, I know my Mother. I am no stranger, here or above. God is my Father, Life is my
Mother, I am no stranger, I’m at home now, in love.”