By Revd. Canon Deborah Parsons
As a teenager, I regularly used to listen to Simon Bates’s Our Tune. It featured a personal story submitted by a listener with a song that had particular significance for them.
In the Himba tribe of Namibia, the date of birth of a child is fixed, not at the time of its arrival in the world, nor in its design but the day the child is conceived in its mother’s mind.
When a woman decides to have a child, she rests under a tree and listens until she hears the song of the child who wants to be born. After she hears the child’s song, she shares it with and teaches it to her partner. When they make love to physically design the child, they sing the song of the child to invite it into being.
When the mother is pregnant, she teaches the child’s song to the midwives and older women of the village, so that when the baby is born, they can sing the song to welcome the new baby into the world.
As the child grows, the other villagers learn their song. If the child falls or is hurt, a villager will pick them up and sing them their song. If the child achieves something wonderful, the villagers will sing their song to honour them.
At every rite of passage, the song is sung. If the child marries, the couple’s songs are sung together. As they are dying, the villagers gather around them, for one last time, to sing their song.
But there is another occasion when the song is sung. At any time during their life when they commit a crime or antisocial act, they are called into the centre of the village and the community forms a circle around them and sings their song.
The tribe recognises that antisocial behaviour is corrected not by punishment but by love and a reminder of identity. When you remember your song, you don’t want to do anything that would harm another.
November is a season of re-membrance. We remember who we are. We remember loved ones departed, lost species and those who’ve died in conflicts past and present.
As we re-member, may we remember our tune, our identity in Christ through our baptismal calling and the unique song, that we each have that reminds us of our essence as love, which calls us into being and which encourages us to live out our faith with courage and with confidence.
My song is love unknown,
my Saviour’s love to me;
love to the loveless shown,
That they might lovely be.
O who am I,
that for my sake
my Lord should take
frail flesh and die?
Here might I stay and sing:
no story so divine;
never was love, dear King,
never was grief like Thine!
This is my Friend,
in Whose sweet praise
I all my days
could gladly spend.
Let’s sing our tune.