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Thursday, March 01, 2007

You move me

Dear Martyn Joseph,

I don’t often write fan letters, but I’m making an exception today because I think you should know how much you moved me last night. I left your concert with a feeling of fullness – like I’d been given a delicious meal of succulent songs that fed the hungry places in my soul. Thank you for that. Thank you for writing such breathtakingly beautiful lyrics as “turn me tender again, mold me anew” and “my soul’s asleep now – wake me up” and – oh there are so many I can barely begin to list them. Thank you for giving of yourself again and again to us your audience. Thank you for taking risks. Thank you for baring your heart and soul and pouring your passion into the gift you offer us.

A few weeks ago, I was in Ethiopia. I traveled through some of the poorest regions of the country, visiting various food-related development projects. I visited people living in primitive huts made of mud and reeds. I watched labourers with picks and shovels painstakingly dig massive ditches to irrigate the parched land. I held the hands of children who weren’t sure where their next meal would come from. I walked past crippled or blind beggars sitting in the dirt next to centuries old churches.

Before departing on my journey, I downloaded my favourite music onto my daughter’s mp3 player. Music is so often my touchstone, my inspiration, and my solid ground and I knew that it would help me process and make sense of some of the pain and poverty I would see. Your two recent albums – Deep Blue and Whoever it was Who Brought me Here – featured prominently in my music selection.

Your music was just what I needed for that journey. You so beautifully reflected so many of my own thoughts – anger at the injustice, compassion for those in need, despair that there are so many hurting people and so little I can do about it, but always hope that there is a better way. Your words became my words as I traveled through almost incomprehensible beauty and equally incomprehensible pain.

I listened to “Yet still this will not be” over and over again and even shared it with my travel companions. More than anything, as I traveled through one of the poorest countries in the world, I wanted to believe that some day “the broken hearted shall indeed rule”.

One particular memory of my trip sticks with me. We stopped at the side of the road next to a rusty abandoned army tank leftover from one of the many wars that have ravaged Ethiopia. Passing school children, curious about our vehicles and our white skin, climbed onto the war machine to watch us. As I watched them, I felt a sadness settle into my soul. How could these school children have hope for the future when their path to school was littered with memories of war?
But then, high up on the hill above where the tank sat, a young girl called down to us. Giggling and waving, she shouted “salam!” (hello) She picked up one of the young goats she was herding and motioned for us to take her picture. In that moment, I felt my hope return. If there is any hope in Ethiopia, it is in this young girl, so full of life and joy.
As we drove away from the abandoned tank, the words of your song kept going through my head. Yet still this will not be. Yet still these tanks will not destroy Ethiopia. Yet still these ongoing wars will not destroy the spirit of this young girl. Yet still there is hope that some day the broken hearted will rule and the kingdom of the fool will be humbled and made low. Yet still there is within me the capacity to contribute to making the future a better place for this little girl and all those like her in this beautiful but broken world.

Thank you, Martyn, for coming with me to Ethiopia.

11 comments:

wordgirl said...

Don't be surprised if you get a letter back. That was beautiful.

andrea said...

You have inspired me to download a couple of his free tunes. Now to listen...

Vicki said...

What a great post.

When I seen the children on the tank my heart sank as yours did. Then like you I was revived by the face of hope. The young girl holding her kid goat. Great writing Heather.

I'm going now to d/l Martyn Joseph on itunes. Since your last praise of music I have been cooking to Ruthie Foster.

ccap said...

Okay, Andrea and Vicki. But, if you LIKE the free downloads please buy his cd(s). He's just an unassuming folk singer trying to get by.

Vicki said...

btw the song that brings tears to my eyes today is Patty Griffin Up To The Mountain

Gina said...

It warms my heart to know that laughter and joy are still alive in Ethiopia. Let us hope the young can carry that into their adulthood.

Vicki said...

look at me heather making comments left and right...


ccap.. I just bought both albums that heather mentioned. I can't wait to cook to them tonight.

Anvilcloud said...

He was in this area not too long ago, but another group used up all of my entertainment fund for that month ... and a few more. :)

Pamela said...

I will listen to him, too.

I trust you.

Janet said...

Heather,

I'm so glad you enjoyed the concert so much. And what a touching posting you've made here. I DO hope he gets the chance to read it!

Janet

Freedom Bound said...

I discovered your blog only two days after crying my way through a gig with Martyn Joseph over this side of the pond.

They certainly are songs that speak so deeply to me too, and often give me hope when i seem to have lost hope.

As type I have Turn Me Tender playing.....I'm yet to listen to this song without a tear forming.

With warmest wishes from another MJ fan on the otherside of the Atlantic.....