They Come Back Singing

News June 2, 2021

by Deacon Paul Kline


Several years ago, I came across a lovely book with the title “They Come Back Singing” by Gary Smith, a Jesuit priest.  The book offers stories and reflections from his experiences accompanying refugees and others trapped in the darkness of a cruel world and mostly forgotten by others.  The title of his book honors the joyful spirituality in many of the people he met on his journey into the broken corners of the world.  He writes about witnessing, with wonder, a spirituality rooted in ethnic, tribal, and religious wisdom and able to withstand the most brutal injustices.  A beautiful and enchanting spirituality powerfully expressed in community worship and, most wonderfully, in song and dance! 

Hard times change us and often hurt us.  But, if we are open to learning, we often discover precious jewels of wisdom in the rubble and ruins that hard times bring.  Those discoveries can unlock a serenity and inner joy that we know can only come from God.  It is a serenity and joy the world cannot give or take away.  It is a joy that inspires us to sing when we should be crying and to dance when we should be still.

As we emerge from this very difficult year, what wisdom have we found?  As we feel ourselves coming back to life after a year of anxiety and isolation, do we feel a new song rising up in our hearts?

How wonderful it would be if this difficult year inspired in us a joyful liberation of our voices!

The archdiocese has granted us permission to sit closer together at Mass.  After 14 months of silence, we will have the privilege of sharing our voices with those around us and of hearing the choir of family, friends, and strangers around us all praying together.  Will we pray with a renewed enthusiasm and freedom? 

We will be allowed to sing! 

As we reunite in our beautiful church and as our gifted musicians and cantors fill our sacred space with music, will our voices rise up in a new song of hope and joy?  Will those passing by our open doors and windows marvel at our beautiful noise and feel their own hearts start to sing?

It is time to come back! Will we come back singing?