Lent with Mary Chapin Carpenter (5)

Lent with Mary Chapin Carpenter (5)

Each year, on Ash Wednesday and during Lent, I focus attention on a singer-songwriter or album from the popular culture of my lifetime in which I find echoes of the Lenten journey.

In her journey of grief, chronicled in the song set Ashes and Roses, Mary Chapin Carpenter found that there was a “narrative arc” to the path. The album follows this arc, moving from profound grief through the things we do to process and deal with it, entering into new territories and relationships that lead to hope and renewal. Like spring itself in the northern hemisphere, there is transformation from cold and chaos, from gray, frozen, and fallow to burgeoning warmth, color, fertility, life.

The key song that accelerates the arc is “Soul Companion,” a duet (appropriately) with James Taylor. It celebrates the people and creatures in our lives who share our map and take the journey with us. We help each other navigate and find the way.

The video MCC put together to go with this song is a delight. It pictures “soul companions” of all kinds in a montage of personal snapshots. Simple and effective, here is life with those who love us, walk with us, and often save us. Please take the time to watch. You may find yourself brushing away a tear, as I did.

All of our dreams are laid out and measured
Arrows and pins and a rainbow of threads
Like hope on a string, sewn into the linings
For the courage to face the unknown ahead

My soul companion
Out in the world somewhere
My soul companion
I’ll meet you there

I’m packing my compass, trusted and tested
My dog-eared maps to study and fold
Into a pocket, I’m traveling light now
All that we have is all that we hold

My soul companion
In my heart you are
My soul companion
Just like a star

There are no borders, there are no boundaries
There are no fences up around me
But I get quiet and I get lonely
Just like everyone

These are the old roads, these are the stations
I look for my ride, you wait for your train
These are the chances, a life’s incantations
These are the places that don’t know our names

My soul companion
Love finds its own way in
My soul companion
Now let us begin
My soul companion
Out in the world somewhere
My soul companion
I’ll meet you there

11 thoughts on “Lent with Mary Chapin Carpenter (5)

  1. Steely is one of my top bands of all time.
    “I cried when I wrote this song, sue me if I play too long…”


  2. This has become my favorite IM posting day of the week. Maybe we should have Mary Chapin Carpenter day until the virus crisis is over.


  3. Well-crafted song, well-crafted video. Delightful, yes, and poignant, too. I can see this being used during a picture montage at someone’s memorial service.


  4. Thanks for calling our attention to Mary Chapin Carpenter, Mike. I’ve had the privilege of seeing her in person. I guess it isn’t very Lent-like, but IMO what we really need is “Down at the Twist and Shout” turned up to high volume!


  5. As this video played out a narrative of life, friendship, and companionship I couldn’t help but replace the images with those of my life; my past with Marge especially. The adventures of early marriage and way beyond that up into middle age and later. We always took chances — some which seem so foolhardy in retrospect. But she was a wonderful adventurer. I especially remember some trips in a red Renault Dauphine — from Lexington to Dallas and back through Louisana and up some Traceway (can’t remember the name). But the car’s fan belt broke in Louisana and after the gasoline attendant said he didn’t have any the right size, he went to look anyway and along with a dust and cobweb-covered rack in the back he found one.

    She was my navigator — with a map in her lap, we would argue over the next turn. And laugh and laugh. Beyond this, I could always trust her navigation. She would jump into situations and places far more quickly than me. And when I lost my way, again she was there. What more can I say?

    The car had the engine in the rear and one of the free accessories was a hand crank. Or you could park on a downward incline and start it with the clutch. Once we drove along a logging road in a national forest somewhere in the Smokies until we came to the end of the road. Another time up to the top of a Kentucky hill to an old family cemetery that most people needed a truck or jeep to navigate.

    My soul companion
    Out in the world somewhere
    My soul companion
    I’ll meet you there.


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