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Some tunes seem to thread through my life. “Finlandia” by Jean Sibelius is one of them. I first knew it as a personal, contemplative song:

Be still my soul, the Lord is on thy side./Bear patiently the cross of grief and pain,/in all thy ways, God faithful will remain.

It comforted me, resourced and filled me when I felt very alone.

I then learned the tune as a rousing hymn to action:

We rest on Thee, our Shield and our Defender/ we go not forth alone against the foe./Strong in Thy strength and in Thy keeping tender/ we rest on Thee and in Thy name we go.

A call action in a military mode, in which my part of the community saw a need to defend ourselves and our beliefs against the enemies, waiting to attack us.

But we are in a different time, a more connected world, with much more expressed pain and rage, a much closer view of what is human behavior at its worst, and a continual call to imagining and being Christ’s peace in the world. So these words by Lloyd Stone and Georgia Harkness fill the tune today, my birthday, when I am in the process of recuperating from surgery, when I am given more confinement–but also more space–to actively and contemplatively give myself to the healing of this world in which I live, in which my children and grandchildren more and have their being, the world that God created, redeems and loves.

..hear my prayer, O God of all the nations, myself, I give thee, let thy will be done.