In 2018, after our cross-country move, I started a Spotify playlist I called “Life Songs.” I was deeply grieving the loss of my home and community, and I needed music that pointed me to hope. Over the last two years, I’ve added to that playlist until it’s almost eight hours long. A full work day’s worth of reassurance, hope, and peace.
Of all the comforts in grief, I have found music to be one of the most powerful. I love the lyric quality of today’s poem by the great Black poet, James Weldon Johnson. Its words remind me of this beautiful song that encourages my heart. Whatever life brings, I will choose to sing.
The Gift to Sing
Sometimes the mist overhangs my path,
And blackening clouds about me cling;
But, oh, I have a magic way
To turn the gloom to cheerful day—
I softly sing.
And if the way grows darker still,
Shadowed by Sorrow’s somber wing,
With glad defiance in my throat,
I pierce the darkness with a note,
And sing, and sing.
I brood not over the broken past,
Nor dread whatever time may bring;
No nights are dark, no days are long,
While in my heart there swells a song,
And I can sing.