Today’s Word from Sheila Weidendorf, Trinity Keyboardist…

Luke 22:42: “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”

We all know the stories of Jesus, how he anguished as he approached his death. He asked God to remove the cup of his death from his lips but yet, surrendered completely to God’s holy plan for him and for humanity. Indeed, one of the hallmarks of faith is the capacity to surrender—which I posit to mean a motion from acts of limited ego-understanding to acting from within the deeper well of consciousness within us, one of the graces of God granted to us as beings created of God.

When Jesus said, “Abba, please remove this cup from my lips” he was acknowledging the enormity of the path before him. Then he said, essentially, “However, I will walk forward not from within the limits of my humanness but will proceed according to the Divine plan revealed within me.”

And what a task is this surrender, this motion from the bounds of ego to the limitlessness of Divine Consciousness! Surrender is NOT a concept that gets a lot of “play” in the Western world. As a whole, Western civilization is rather inherently ego-centric, what with our history of colonialism, rugged individualism, “bootstrap” self-sufficiency narratives and notions of manifest destiny.

But one cannot cultivate true devotion—to God, to Christ, to one’s own beloved—without the capacity for surrender. How daunting! Surrender is like setting one’s self adrift in a vast ocean on a little pool floaty, trusting the rhythm of the waves when no shore can be seen. To surrender is to acknowledge, deeply, that what we think we know, based on what we believe we have experienced thus far, is all just a tiny portent of all that is, all that can be, all that WE can be, and—certainly–all that God is. Yet, surrender is really our only task!

Applied Surrender 101:

Now about that ultimate surrender story….

When we think of surrendering to God’s superior will, perhaps we assume such an act in the context of facing an ominous or unpleasant task. Though none of us has faced crucifixion, I’m sure at least most of us have suffered and lamented and grieved and maybe even, like Jacob, had to wrestle with at least metaphorical angels. But what about surrender in the context of positive activity, and not suffering?

We all have in our lives those rough places and crooked paths and we perhaps turn to God to make straight the way within us. But we also have our gifts and graces, too—our talents and proclivities that can become our offerings in the world. And I think surrender is just as important in this regard as it is in transforming suffering to grace in our awareness.

I am a musician. When global pandemics do not have the world shut down, I perform concerts. A lot. A whole lot. (I almost feel guilty that Covid gave me a much-needed break from life in the public eye! I didn’t know I needed to go home, go within, as much as I have this last year.) To do what I do requires me to quite constantly be “on.” My work (to this very day) is to constantly learn new repertoire, practice so as to keep my technical capacities polished, but to show up at my many rehearsals with other musicians ready to engage, go deep, find the sweet spot and release the music from captivity. First, personal practice; second, rehearsals to create the crucible and find the gestalt of each particular work; finally—performance where we bring the music to others and hopefully create a beautiful, meaningful, deepening experience for the listener.

And what is the key to doing this well? Surrender. First, I MUST do my own work. Then, throughout the process of bringing a piece of music to life, I must surrender – to the music, to my partners in the performance and, certainly, to the Holy that breathes the music into being in the first place. I could say that the first part of the process is – of necessity! – an act of the personal, egoic self. I have to start with me, do what I can do, perfect my own skill and understanding, bring my own will forces to the task at hand. But at some point, Sheila as a person, as a personality, must disappear so that Music itself can take over the holy space within and come to life. No surrender – no real music.

Of course, without surrender you could still be on the receiving end of some beautiful notes and technical acumen. But WITH surrender, you can maybe actually perceive the beautiful turning of the spheres in God’s own heaven, as everything, EVERYTHING is of God. Thus, a musician having talent, for example, is nothing to be proud of. We don’t create our own talents. But it IS up to us to bring ourselves to the task of doing our work. For me that means countless hours of practice and rehearsal. But then, if we are truly to know God within us, around us, between us and in the expression of whatever our talents and proclivities may be, we must get ourselves out of the way.

Today I want to share one of my favorite Leonard Cohen songs. (Confession: Leonard Cohen IS holy ground to me. I ADORE his entire body of work—music, poetry, novels, etc. But I digress.) In this song, If It Be Your Will, he is acknowledging himself as the singer, as the Voice expressing his own innate talents and his work. And he is surrendering it all to the will of the Holy, saying, “If it is Your will, I won’t speak any more, I won’t sing.” He also acknowledges human suffering, and the choice we can all make to make life holy. And he acknowledges that, even in the midst of suffering, God’s mercy spills out over us all. I hope you’ll love this song as much as I do! (link below the lyrics)


If It Be Your Will

If it be your will, that I speak no more
And my voice be still, as it was before
I will speak no more, I shall abide until
I am spoken for, if it be your will

If it be your will, that a voice be true
From this broken hill, I will sing to you
From this broken hill
All your praises they shall ring
If it be your will, to let me sing

From this broken hill
All your praises they shall ring
If it be your will, to let me sing

If it be your will, if there is a choice
Let the rivers fill, let the hills rejoice
Let your mercy spill
On all these burning hearts in Hell
If it be your will, to make us well

And draw us near and bind us tight
All your children here, in their rags of light
In our rags of light, all dressed to kill
And end this night, if it be your will
If it be your will

To view on YouTube, click HERE.