an emerging, missional Christian community in the Scranton, PA area:
rooted in the Episcopal Church, welcoming all.

Monday, June 18, 2007

church as improvisation

As we are working on our mission statement(s), I've been on the looking for thoughts, ideas, and images that could inspire our own self-descriptions. I just came across this wonderful poem by Stephen Dobyns called "Thelonious Monk" (click here for the whole poem). Here's an excerpt from it that makes me imagine what it could be like to embody church as improvisation:

Thelonious Monk

A record store on Wabash was where
I bought my first album. I was a freshman
in college and played the record in my room

over and over. I was caught by how he took
the musical phrase and seemed to find a new
way out, the next note was never the note

you thought would turn up and yet seemed
correct. . . .

What Monk banged out was the conviction
of innumerable directions. Years later
I felt he's been blueprint, map and education:

no streets, we bushwhacked through the underbrush;
not timid, why open your mouth if not to shout?
not scared, the only road lay straight in front;

not polite, the notes themselves were sneak attacks;
not quiet—look, can't you see the sky will soon
collapse and we must keep dancing till it cracks?


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