Music by Sarah Pirtle.
Words by Sarah Pirtle with Bonnie Lockhart and Jan Thomas.
1. With every hard choice that we make we keep the flame alive.
With ancient embers that we rake we keep the flame alive.
With unbridled creativity and unrivaled authenticity,
with unsung generosity we keep the flame alive.
Chorus: Keep the flame alive and let it show.
Light your candle and hold it high and the light will grow.
2. With words of truth that we have said we keep the flame alive.
With hands that turn the grain to bread we keep the flame alive.
With unbridled celebrations and unrivaled revelations,
With unsung generations we keep the flame alive.
3. With the stormy waters we have crossed, we keep the flame alive.
Everytime we try and think we’ve lost, we keep the flame alive.
With freely given gratitude and miles and miles of latitude,
With feisty stand-up atititude we keep the flame.
4. When we ride through fear and reach the spring, we keep the flame alive.
Everytime we stop to shout and sing, we keep the flame alive.
With every mountain, every tree, with water pouring to the sea,
with every child, with you and me.
With daily acts of bravery, we keep the flame alive.
As this CD got ready to be manufactured, I didn’t have a title song. Then a chance conversation changed all that. At our local coop, I was talking to a mother, Lynn Phillips, about her six-year-old daughter Lauren’s passionate commitment to protecting the earth. (Also see “Song Stories” about Lauren and the song “Walls and Bridges.”) Lynn commented, “Sometimes we feel like there aren’t many families like ours.” I wanted to create a song that would say that--Everything you’re doing really does matter.
In the next hour I began the first draft of the song while driving to the airport. The image that came was that each of us truly has the power of a brilliant heart light inside us, a flame that we can nurture and keep alive. Even though the mainstream media doesn’t portray a heart-centered way of life, when we make the journey to keep the candle of our heart well lit, we are affecting each other and the world.
I kept thinking about a candle-lighting ceremony that I’d participated in at Winter Solstice. Have you ever seen what it’s like to be in a completely dark room in winter as you light even one candle? It casts a tremendous glow. At Touchstone Farm (www.sacredcircles.com) in Easthampton, Massachusetts at Winter Solstice, circle dance leaders Shaker and Anja include such an experience. They give each person a candle, then ask the assembled group of dancers to blow out the candles one at a time.
We stand together in the dark. Then they say--notice how much it matters when one person’s light in the world shines. We light one candle, and feel the difference. As we pass the flame and relight all the others, the effect of our light is imprinted.
All of this was churning. I brought the incomplete song to my friends in California. New lyrics were cooked with Bonnie Lockhart and Jan Thomas in a flurry of co-creation. Although I’d started to write the song alone, clearly it needed to be born through community. We found the values that the three of us shared could create a nexis of quick common ground, and this song flew out.
Jan Thomas writes, “In some ways the line--With words of truth that we have said
we keep the flame alive--is for me the whole emotional core of the piece. Telling the truth
even when difficult or dangerous is the driver within so many ‘acts of everyday bravery.’"
I think about all the people across time who have had the same common purpose--to support life and community. I want to visualize them with us in our everyday struggles cheering us on.
The people of the future stretch out a golden thread to us. I hear them say--thank you for creating the world that someday we will be enjoying.
What helps you keep the flame of your heart strong?