Nashville here we come: words, music, mystery

by Elizabeth Cunningham

Maeve thanks everyone for their enthsiastic response to her blog. She will be back, and she will address all suggested topics including shamelessness and another topic that is a too complex to put into one word. The gist is how Jesus could choose her (a brazen out-spoken pagan Celt) despite what the church subsequently teaches about salvation. She might not know the answer, but no doubt she will have something to say. Thanks for the topics! Keep them coming.

Today it is my turn, and I have a story to tell. My dear friend and combrogo Tim Dillinger has already told his side of the story more than once on his blog–and on stage! I wonder if he knows what an impact he has had and is having on my life and work. I will do my best to make it clear.

Who knows where the story really begins, why I had to write, why Tim had to sing. Maybe there is no why, and no why to Tim’s heart being broken. Let’s begin with his going to the library on one of the most terrible days of his life. Maeve must have been on the alert. She managed to get her big fat book to jump off the shelf into his hands where it stayed, Tim claims, for the next eight months. When we get an accurate count of how many times he has read The Passion of Mary Magdalen, we will be contacting the Guiness Book of World Records.

In early 2009, Tim wrote to my publisher, requesting to do a podcast interview for “Out the Box” We set a date in March. Meanwhile I scoped him out and got his CDs “Love is on My Mind” and “The Muse,” which I urge you to do, too. From the first note he sang, I knew Tim was soul kin, and I am now going for the Guiness Book of World records myself for the number of times I have played his CDs. How to describe his music? His gospel and classic soul roots are strong and deep, but his expression is unique to him and his puts his whole heart out there. Listen, you will see what I mean.

When we met in Harlem on a cold windy day in March, we already knew each other’s work intimately. The first words Tim said to me were: “I remember,” the beginning words of a song he wrote long before he read Maeve’s words about re-membering. He was wearing a winged Isis T-shirt with the same words on it. Yes, I also remembered. We had our interview at the Shrine, a venue in Harlem where he was appearing later that night with David Sosa and Kare Alford–the three of them are now Soulkiss. More on that in a bit.

During the interview, I sang the opening paragraphs of The Passion of Mary Magdalen. “Oh!” he said. “You can sing!” And it turns out that Tim can write! Not just songs but he had already written a memoir called Snapshots (check his website) and he has now embarked on his first novel. It is for him to talk about that. I will just hint that, between us, we may just re-write the Bible, or at least some juicy chunks of it.

Since that day we have stayed in touch and visited. (Tim and David both came to my place for Beltane and with great good nature sang endless rounds of “Oats Peas Beans and Barley Grow” in exquisite harmony as everyone danced the Maypole). And I had the immense joy of seeing Soulkiss live at The Triad this June when they began their busy summer tour season. Going to a Soulkiss concert is an ecstatic, soul-shaking experience. Don’t miss the chance. They’ll be at Don’t Tell Mama with Charlene Moore in NYC October 23 & 30. Reserve now:

I did not get to see all the Soulkiss shows that summer, but I tuned in to the live podcast of their Kulak’s show in LA, and was introduced to Patsy Moore, Myrrh, Susaye Greene, and Michael Micshaw (sorry if I spelled Michael’s name wrong). When I was on tour in San Francisco I had the pleasure of meeting Andrea (the Godsistah!). I look forward to meeting Reba Rambo McGuire and Charlene Moore. Wherever Tim goes, he connects people, he creates community, and not just any kind of community but joyous, soulful community. He lives in Temple Magdalen, Maeve’s place, where everyone is welcome. And if you have a conflict, open your mouth and sing it–till you burst out laughing.

I may not have had the worst day of my life this summer, but it has been a difficult time, as some of my past blogs will attest. Tim’s friendship and the camaraderie of the combrogos has made a huge difference. I cannot remember how we decided that I would be making a recording of the songs I’ve composed for The Maeve Chronicles. I believe it was Tim’s idea, and it was definitely Tim’s idea to go to Nashville where he has done all the work of finding an affordable studio and an excellent and trusted musician to help set the songs. He’s heading out this Friday, and I will meet him in Nashville this Sunday, October 4th. We’ll be in the studio on Monday morning to begin work on the MaevenSong CD. We hope to have it ready to go before Christmas.

Words and music. One leads to the other, one is the other, or can be. A note on mystery. Whenever I am discouraged about the progress of my work in the world and the state of the publishing industry, I remember this chance or not chance meeting, a book falling into the right hands at the right moment, a meeting that has helped two people feel encouraged in their lives, in their work, in their joy. A meeting that is engendering more stories, more songs. And so it is.

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Tim Dillinger September 29, 2009 - 10:49 pm

It's so funny. I was having a heart to heart with my Paulina today about this very thing. The real reasons thing happen. While I still mourn my heart being broken, I can't imagine my life if it hadn't happened. I would have never gone to the library for Maeve to hand me your book. I might never have been empty and desolate enough to understand Maeve and what she lived. And without those two experiences (the heartbrak and YOU), I would have never been willing (or unhappy enough) to change my life and come to NY—never knowing you were so close! Imagine all the what-ifs. No SOULKISS. No Kare and David. No Beltaine. No Susaye. No Patsy. No Andrea. Everything that has made this year so distinct for both of us might have never been.

I have my own individual imaginings, but I can't imagine what would have happened if you'd have told Maeve (or Madge) NO all those years ago. Thank you for committing your life to this. In doing so, you very much saved mine—and I believe many others.

I know where I was the day that I found Maeve. I was at the very end of my rope. I wanted to die. That's why I related to Maeve. And I was entering a job that felt like slavery. I was literally working in a jail. I remember distinctly contemplating hurling myself in front of a rolling semi truck but there was something in this book that I couldn't stop reading that put that thought at bay. It gave me hope to just try one more day…to keep searching…to keep re-membering…to keep singing…to keep telling the story…and to treasure the stones on the road…that a broken heart is a gateway…the mark of a true poet and seer.

…and I am still re-membering as we speak…

Beyond that, you helped me and Jesus make some peace. I always had him imagined a bit more like our dear Esus than the one in the King James Version. I think I allowed myself to love him again and forgive the misrepresentation that had driven me away from him. You also helped me find Isis, who had been calling me long before I knew who she was. And in all of this finding, you helped me find a bit more of myself.

I feel as if I owe you so much. I'm blessed to have you as a sister, a teacher and seer in my life.

I love you combrogo.

Wild Roaming One (WRO) September 29, 2009 - 11:02 pm

Elizabeth, I remember you talking about Tim and Nashville when you read this summer in Toronto…you're face lit up and your aura danced with rainbows just at the mention.

But dear lady, to entice us with such juicy, seredipidous details of it all…well, I'm gonna jump over to Tim's site and listen with an open ear and heart.

Travel well Eliz(nMaeve), looking forward to hearing all about your adventure here and in Twitterland.

Wild Roaming One

faerian September 29, 2009 - 11:35 pm

serendipity, synchronicity and all those other words that signify the magic of right meetings are the stuff of Maeve and truth

Thankyou Tim and Elizabeth for sharing your story here… magical beginnings and magical creations just sparkle from this post…

have a wonderful adventure in the studio

honouring your broken hearts and powerful spirits



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