Our hymn theme for the month of March is a song written in 1983 by the Rev. Fred Small. He wrote it in response to a request by Janet Peterson, cellist for the women’s music group, Motherlode. It is said that she wanted a lullaby that she could sing to her nine-year-old son about the freedom to live and love as we choose.
You can listen to the group known as The Flirtations sing this beautiful lullaby. The Flirtations was pro-LGBT group raising awareness of HIV and AIDS during the 1980’s and 90’s. Just reading the comments on their youtube page of this song indicates how beloved this song became to many people over the years, especially people losing friends and loves to the AIDS epidemic created in this country by a nation and a government at the time unwilling to see some groups of its own citizens as real people of worth and dignity.
We’ve cleared off the table, left overs saved,
washed dishes and put them a way.
I’ve told you a story, tucked you in tight
at the end of your knock-about day.
As the moon sets its sails to carry you to sleep
over the midnight sea
I will sing you a song no one sang to me,
may it keep you good company.
Oh you can be anybody you want to be,
you can love whomever you will.
You can travel any country where your heart leads
and know that I will love you still.
You can live by yourself,
You can gather friends around,
You can choose one special one>
And the only measure of your words and your deeds
will be the love you leave behind when you’re done.
There are girls who grow up strong and bold,
there are boys quiet and kind.
Some race on ahead, some follow behind,
some go in their own way and time.
Some women love women, some men love men,
some raise children, some never do.
You can dream all the day never reaching the end
of everything possible for you.
Don’t be rattled by names, by taunts, by games,
but seek out spirits true.
If you give your friends the best part of yourself
they’ll give the same back to you.
As I ponder these words and begin to spend a month reflecting on them, I am struck by this powerful message:
You can be whoever you are–and I will love you still. I will love you still. That brief but strong affirmation addresses that insidious fear that is far too often implied in relationships within our culture: that if we do not behave in ways that measure up to the expectations of others–they will withdraw love from us.
From another perspective, it is this: when we truly love another, we honor them for exactly who they are. We do not require them to become someone else for us.