Soul Food Archive: Guest Caterer Specials
Harlem Renaissance Party (detail)
Story Quilt, © Faith Ringgold 1987*
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Guest Caterer Specials are side dishes that complement our main courses. The experiences of many spiritual seekers are forming a "cookbook for a sacred life" (Ram Dass' phrase). Might some special delicacy from this potluck meal become a staple at your table?Please sample our current Main Courses menu, as well as our tasty Desserts & Snacks and earlier dishes in the Soul Food Archive. And, do send your personal comments to our busy kitchen staff. View others' comments here.
I sing my prayers in the car. On my way to work I sing "The Lord's Prayer." The words determine the tune, and I expand each phrase to answer specific needs of my day. When praying for my daily bread, I expand that to give thanks for my jobs that pay in coin and the ones that pay in spirit. When pondering my shortcomings, I always pray for patience, especially on the freeway.
When there is an accident on the road or traffic is stopped or crawling, and I finish the expanded "Lord's Prayer" before I get to work, I sing Psalms—the 23rd ("The Lord is my shepherd"), the 121st ("I lift up my eyes to the hills…"), and the 103rd ("Bless the Lord, O my soul…"). Psalm 16:11 is a favorite; these words suggest a jazzy song that I sing over and over:
Thou dost show me the path of life;
In Thy presence there is fullness of joy,
In Thy right hand are pleasures for evermore.
On my way home from the stressors of my job at a homeless shelter, I sing the Shema (Deuteronomy 6:4).
Hear, O Israel, the Lord, our God is one Lord.
I only know the first verse in Hebrew, but singing it repeatedly calms me and transitions my soul into a peaceful evening. Singing the Shema also reminds me of my connection not only to all the world's practicing Jews, who begin and end the day with the Shema, but also to all those who sang these words before our time.
Singing my prayers gets me safely to work and home again.
Read Others' Comments...
Thank you, for sharing this so-simple, but so-profound, form of prayer with us. Do many of us sing in the car? Sure! Do many of us sing sacred music or improvise sacred texts while we drive? Probably. But, it's your commitment to this practice that makes it so valuable. The freeways are, it seems, alive with the sound of music.
The Center Staff.
Thank you for the inspiration, Sally! What a wonderful example of participation in the "reenchantment of everyday life"--and a reminder that there are so many simple, yet profound, opportunities to engage in practice and attunement.
Just read Sally Evan's "Singing in the Car." Thank you so much for publishing it! It's really a wonderful idea and a lovely image.
So true. Honesty and everything recognized.
* Credits for this page:
~ The quilts of American fiber artist Faith Ringgold hang in museums around the world. Harlem Renaissance Party, #2 in her "Bitternest Series," is in the collection of the National Museum of American Art at the Smithsonian, Washington, D.C. Acryllic on canvas, 94"x82", it pictures eleven guests and their exuberant, mask-holding hostess, Cee Cee. From lower left around the table, the guests are Celia (or Ceclia), a doctor; Florence Mills, singer and comedienne; Aaron Douglass, painter; Meta Warick Fuller, sculptor; W.E.B. DuBois, organizer and writer; Cee Cee's husband, a dentist; Richard Wright, writer; Countee Cullen, poet, novelist and playwright; Zora Neal Hurston; novelist, folklorist and anthropologist; Alain Locke, philosopher and writer; Langston Hughes, poet and writer. Gratefully used with permission. See more of Faith's work at www.faithringgold.com.
~ Sally Evans has been commuting on the Los Angeles freeways for over thirty years, for at least ten miles a day. Originally, she drove to UCLA, where she counseled graduate students on scholarships, and administered the Fulbright program. Currently, she's still driving—to People Assisting the Homeless (PATH) in Los Angeles, caring for homeless residents and many volunteers (see www.epath.org). Sally can be reached at email@example.com.