Forgive me if this isn’t entirely articulate and wholly polished; I am still feeling the numbness of grief and denial following the unexpected death of my beloved Godmother, as well as the exhaustion that accompanies the extreme volatility of New York weather.
I love Audrey Assad‘s music. A few years ago, when I was still in grad school, I used to drive from school to a small fair trade store (that sadly no longer exists as a storefront) and hang out, talk, and volunteer. As I was leaving, Pattye said that she had a CD that she wanted to give me. She thought I’d like it. It was Assad’s first CD, called The House You’re Building. I loved it. I shared it with my mom and with my friends because I thought it was so great. In time, I went on iTunes and downloaded her second CD, called Heart. Then, when she turned to Kickstarter to crowd fund an independent record, I supported that campaign and received an EP especially for backers, and her third CD, called Fortunate Fall.
I listened to these albums frequently when I was in Hawai’i. Our days began with two hours of Ora et Labora, but making that time sacred was more difficult than I could have imagined. Fortunate Fall felt like church, which had also proven to be a problematic venture in Hawai’i. Heart provided songs I’d sing along with in Hawai’i and beyond–“Even The Winter” became the anthem for my lupus treatment–and I used songs from The House You’re Building in a few of the morning reflections that I led. Then, two more EPs (one live and one studio) were released, and a concert film followed. When she went on tour for the studio EP, Death, Be Not Proud, I bought a ticket to see her at Molloy College, and then she announced that the tour would be a retirement tour of sorts, and that she planned to move to her side project, LEVV, full time. I was so happy that I’d gotten a ticket to see her live (I had asked a friend to go with, and hadn’t heard back, and decided to buy my ticket anyway), and I was also so excited because I had loved the song demo (Arrow–which sadly has been taken down) she’d released as LEVV.
A short time later, she wrote on her Facebook that she’d be contributing the occasional writing to Blessed Is She, an online devotional written by and for Catholic women. And yes, I felt like a rebel when I signed myself up. I greatly enjoyed the Blessed Is She writings, as it is entirely too common in this world to feel as though everyone is trying to erase or invalidate the female experience. I wrote to my boss in Hawai’i, and he decided that he would offer all of the staff and all of the past ESC alums from Mokule’ia, as well as the current interns the opportunity to be connected through the Blessed Is She Advent journal. Many of us said that we’d like to be connected in this manner, and David wrote that the entirely female perspective of Blessed Is She was something that we should embrace, not shy away from, as the Church has historically only had male voices. When Blessed Is She announced a Lenten journal, I bought it without hesitation. Between the two journals, Blessed Is She had begun sending out wallpapers designed by Erica Tighe of Be A Heart, who designed the journals and has rebranded Blessed Is She. I love her soft calligraphy, and the fact that her designs are heavily reliant on watercolors, which have a softness and a breath to them that no other medium has, in my opinion.
Since the Advent journal was released, I’ve asked Blessed Is She multiple times if they will do a whole liturgical year journal, as I’d love that. They’ve taken a step towards that with their beautiful new journal, released on Easter Monday, called I Found Him Whom My Soul Loves.
Lest I lead you believe that Be A Heart’s repertoire is entirely contained within Blessed Is She (which is so far from true), I must tell you that Erica Tighe makes and sells beautiful prints, and custom calligraphy works, and paper goods for weddings, et cetera.Since the release of the Blessed Is She Lenten journal, I’ve purchased 6 prints, one gift, and several other goodies from Be A Heart, and I check the Be A Heart Instagram far too often looking for pictures of new custom orders and past works that I may not have seen yet. I have dreams of beautifully calligraphed wedding invitations for when I–as I joke with my family–“manage to trick someone into Holy Matrimony.” This past week, Tighe released a gold leaf cactus print for DIGDEEP Water’s Navajo Water Project. DIGDEEP fights to ensure that everyone has access to clean water, arguing that this access is a basic human right, as water is life. Having been to both the Navajo Nation and to remote Kenya where water rights are fought over in the court systems, I could not agree more.
I’ve always enjoyed lettering and writing things by hand, but in the last few days, I’ve done more of it than I have in the last few months, just because it
frustrates me to no end makes me happy. And now, I’m eagerly awaiting the arrival of my new Be A Heart prints. My walls are going to be so pretty!
If you decide to check out Blessed Is She, Be A Heart, or give any of Audrey Assad’s albums a listen, I’d love to hear your thoughts! Feel free to comment below, or you can let me know on Instagram (@alwhitehorne), Twitter (@alwhitehorne), or at my email address ( alwhitehorne(at)gmail(dot)com ). I hope I hear from you!