And still there are songs
The first time I heard Sara Groves sing was at the Andrew Peterson Christmas concert in 2006. I think that makes me a little late in jumping on the fan bandwagon, but my admiration for her has been growing ever since. Let me tell you why.
At the AP concert Sara sang two songs: a Christmasy type song I have yet to locate, and Why it Matters. She told how a conversation had inspired that song. As an aspiring writer, I was so touched by her story and the song. I felt the words took aim at the guilt I carry about my passion. There are so many other obligations I have, as a wife and a Mom; and I struggle with taking time to do something that feels, at times, very egocentric. But the truth is that it feeds my soul, so I need it. And I have to remember how blessed I feel when I hear and read other's stories, how their beauty and wisdom gives me peace, heals me and helps me grow. My greatest hope is that my words could do the same things for someone else.
A few months after the concert, John bought the Nomad DVD featuring Sara. If you have not yet seen this, please go watch it. Praise God, there is more to Christian music than what we see on the cover of CCM magazine. Sara and her husband deliver baby supplies to victims of Hurricane Katrina, and Sara takes a trip to Rwanda to see firsthand the past, present and even future of this tragic history. I loved seeing so many real, human moments on film. Here was a regular woman, about my age, a wife and Mom, who just happens to be a successful singer/songwriter. She actually tries to accomplish what she sings about, adding to the beauty; and in my opinion she succeeds.
In the film, Sara is seen reading Gary Haugen's book, Terrify No More and later he is one of the people in the group visiting Rwanda. Props again go to John for going out and borrowing the book from the library like the next day. He read it in less than a week and could not stop talking about it. He said he had a new hero and told me I had to read it. I was very hesitant. I'd heard Gary speak before and I knew what he did and what the book was about. I told John, "I can't read that. It's too heavy. I'll have nightmares." I used the excuse of being pregnant (read extremely emotional), and not wanting to add more anxiety to my mind.
A few month after Benjamin was born, I felt a nudge to go and pick it up. (John had bought the book and read it again by then and I saw it every time I went to the bathroom.) I told myself I would only read a few pages just to see what it was like. I was so surprised. I was immediately taken in by the positive encouraging feel of the book. I couldn't put it down. This book grabbed hold of me and affected me probably more than anything I've ever read. And it did so because the stories were true. Yes, I cried a few times, but they were good tears. If there are ever stories that demand emotion, they are the stories of injustice and oppression, of innocence stolen. I had not wanted to think about these dark corners of the world. I didn't know I would see light shining in them. If you're discouraged and think God isn't doing anything in this world, if you find it hard to believe that eternal Creator God, that big awesome force who put the planets in motion, has better things to do with his time than look after small, temporal individuals like us, you must open this book.
For my birthday last month, John bought me the latest Sara Groves CD, Tell Me What You Know. Listening to this CD is like reading the book again. Those same feelings of hope come back. Maybe people who haven't read the book will not like it as much, but my guess is that it might make them want to read it. A few of the tracks are inspired by IJM (read the lyrics and Sara's notes for yourself) and Sara's trip to Rwanda. But the whole album is really beautiful. It has such a passionate feel to it. I'm reminded of early Amy Grant (Lead Me On) and I sincerely hope one day Sara will also be so well known.
A week ago I was back at the AP X-mas concert and so was Sara Groves. She performed The Long Defeat, another gem from her new album. At intermission I was talking to some friends about how I wanted to try and meet Sara. I was trying to explain what her music was all about and I found myself sounding like the voiceover on a Star Wars trailer, saying things like "fighting evil with the force of good," and "finding our hope." And in the midst of writing this article I've decided that perhaps it is better to let her lyrics speak for themselves. Here are a few lines from my favorite songs:
in the woman there’s a song
in the song there is hope
in the hope revolution
from In the girl there's a room
I see the long quiet walk along the underground railroad
I see the slave awaken to the value of her soul
I see the young missionary and the angry spear
I see his family returning with no trace of fear
I see the long hard shadows of Calcutta nights
I see the Sister standing by the dying man’s side
I see the young girl huddled on the brothel floor
I see the man with a passion come kicking down that door
I see the man of sorrow and his long troubled road
I see the world on his shoulders and my easy load
from When The Saints
I can't just fight when I think I'll win
that's the end of all belief
And nothing has provoked it more
than a possible defeat
from The Long Defeat
it's the beauty in the tales we tell
it's the pressing on and ending well
it’s the joy that comes when we give our selves away
from Love is still a worthy cause