Praying With Jazz For Lent | Sojourners

Praying With Jazz For Lent

“Is music pleasure, prayer, and praise in one?”
Silhouette of a musician playing the saxophone with music notes wafting into the air.
Illustration by Matt Chase

WHEN THE CHAOS gets too much, I listen to jazz. I’m not an aficionado. I just know that brave jazz refreshes my freedom. Lately, I’ve been listening to a lot of jazz.

The stay of execution offered by a COVID-19 vaccine allows for a giddy, perilous optimism. Even a minute crack in our coronavirus armor brings up emotions too dangerous, too chaotic to express: A trembling wave of the suffering we have endured, heavy across the shoulders like the splintery weight of the cross.

For ballast against overwhelming rage, I turn to The Five Quintets by poet Micheal O’Siadhail: “Be with me Madam Jazz I urge you now, / Riff in me so I can conjure how / You breathe in us more than we dare allow.”

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The cover of the February 2021 issue features a photo of artist Makoto Fujimura painting a cup.
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