I was listening recently to the CD “In This Land,” a collection of songs sung by Sweet Honey in the Rock, a group of black women.
The group, which has varied in size since its inception, sings a cappella and has one member that translates in sign language. Bernice Johnson Reagan (now retired) founded the group in 1973. The name of the group came from Psalm 81.16, which speaks of honey flowing from rocks.
Included as themes for many of their songs are civil rights, freedom, racism, African American history, the plight of Native Americans, world history and cultures, children, religion, womanhood, motherhood, death, politics and poverty.
Perhaps, because the media has bombarded us with news of the U.S.A. (and much of the world) sitting on the brink of financial failure, the increase in homeless people and the political pirouettes made by our elected officials around those people to be made even more impoverished, the CD’s song “I Don’t Understand” (by Steve Langley) has haunted me. Below is a verse from that song.
“I don’t understand. I don’t understand. I don’t understand.
It takes more than promises to feed a nation
It takes more than pounds of surplus cheese
I ain’t got a lot of education so
Why don’t somebody tell me please?
Why am I hungry? Why am I hungry?
Why in this land? Why in this horn of plenty
My belly’s often empty?
I don’t understand. I don’t understand …”
It’s not just food for the stomach that one hungers, is it? One certainly hungers for security and peace. Honey in the rock. Amen.