The accordian

I am no great lover of the accordian.


If you forced me to sum up my feelings about the thing

into just one word

I’d probably settle

on “dorky”


I was therefore surprised

to find that the thing

is actually quite a symbol

of Life Itself.


Have you ever noticed

how isolated elements of life can feel so familiar

when taken one by one?

Yet somehow

thrown together, taken as a whole.

They just feel so strange.


I am not surprised by the existence of war

or my daughter’s sweet kisses.

I am not surprised by the smell of patchoulli

or the flavour of success…

Until I think about the fact

that they all inhabit the world together.


And the humble accordion.

A Frankenstien’s monster of a thing.

A keyboard torn from a piano and turned on its side.

thrown onto a bellows of a  blacksmith.

and some buttons thrown on the other side for good measure

wielded by the sort-of kid

they put a “kick-me” sign on the back of

in movies set in the 1950’s.

Who would concoct such a thing?


The notes themselves

if you just listened to one or two

these would be in explicable

except for the clear assertion that they are not music.


If you chose a moment, two moments

out of my life.

They, too, would be inexplicable

except for the fact that they are not music.


When you string those notes together, though

well sometimes

sometimes it is still not music.

But other times?

other times, it is.


There are times that the accordion is stretched out so wide

that I think it is has expanded to fill up the size of the world.

And there are times at that is compressed so small

I wonder if it would fit in the back pocket

of somebody’s lederhosen.



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The stories that speak to our soul begin at a home where things are good. Cinderella is happy with her father. The three little pigs have grown up and are ready to move on. Bilbo Baggins knows his shire. Adam and Eve walk with God in the garden. My story isn’t much different. There was a time and a place where it was so good. There was a community for me. And there was joy. We were filled with a sincere desire to do what God wanted us to do. We possessed explanations and understandings that went a certain distance. We offered security and tradition and laughter. For a lot of years, that was enough. I have this sense that it was also necessary. I have this surety, now, that it certainly wasn’t everything. There were some things that became increasingly problematic as time went by. There was a desire to package things up so very neatly. Sunday morning services were efficient and strategic. Responses to differences of opinion were premeditated. Formula began to feel more important than being real. A real desire for everybody to be one of us, but also a real sense that there is an us, and there is a them. They carried a regret that it has to be this way, but deeper than this regret was a surety that this is how it is. I began to recognize that there was a cost of admission to that group. There were people who sat at the door, collecting it. Those people wished they didn’t have to. But I guess they felt like they did have to. They let some people in, and they left others out. There was a provisional membership. My friends did possess a desire to accommodate people that are different… But it would be best for everyone concerned if they were only a little bit different. I did make many steps forward in this place. Before I went there, there were lies that I believed. Some of the things that I learned there, I still hold on to. But that place is not my home anymore. Those people are not my community anymore. There were times it was hard. I am engaged in a different community now. And I am working hard at finding a place in many different places now, embracing many different kind of families. I don’t always get it right. I am trying and I am learning and I am moving foreward. I have this sense that I am not alone in these experiences. I believe that we are tribe and we are growing. We are pilgrims, looking for a new holy land. Perhaps we won’t settle on the same spot of land. But if you’ve read this far, I am thinking that we are probably headed in the same general direction. I have begun this blog to talk about where my journey is taking me. In every space, we find people who help us along. And maybe we can get to know each other, here. We embrace ideas that provide a structure for the things we believe, and perhaps we can share these too. Maybe we can form a group, a tribe, a community, if we can figure out a way to work through the shadow of these kinds of groups, if we can bigger than the us-and-them ideas that have caused so much trouble in the past. As important as they are, I think the very nature of online interactions will lend itself to something equally powerful. I am stumbling onto these practices that my grandfathers and great grandfathers in the faith engaged in. I am learning about these attitudes and intuitions are so different than the kinds of things we call doctrine today. I don’t know about you, but I am running out of patience, and even interest, in conversations about doctrine. I hope that maybe you’ll share a little something about where your journey is taking you, and maybe our common joys and challenges might help each other along, and we might lift each other up. Thanks for doing this journey with me.

3 thoughts on “The accordian”

  1. I REALLY like this analogy. I never would have thought of it, but it makes so much sense–in the way you describe the not-making-sense of life . . . 😉

    (But . . . I’m pretty sure it’s “lederhosen.”)


  2. Thanks Jenn. I updated the spelling. Such observations are always appreciated. My spelling tends toward the mediocre.

    I should probably credit Donald Hall with some of the inspiration here. I’m reading this great book of his poetry (White Apples and the Taste of Stone: Selected Poems 1946-2006) and he had an accordion figuring into one of the poems. It seems like it was supposed to stand for something, and as I started trying to figure the poem out, it occured to me that as goofy as accordions are, they are actually pregnant with all this symbolism.


  3. I think it’s cool that you don’t care if I edit like that. I don’t feel the need to edit everything, but that one . . .

    A pregnant accordian, huh?


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