There's a Trick of the Light I'm Learning to Do

This is a collection of songs I wrote and recorded in January - March, 2020 while on sabbatical from ministry. They each deal with a different aspect or expression of the Gospel. Click on the image above to listen.

Three Hands Clapping

This is my latest recording project (released May 27, 2019). It is a double album of 22 songs, which very roughly track the story of my life... a sort of musical autobiography, so to speak. Click the album image to listen.

Ghost Notes

Ghost Notes
A collections of original songs I wrote in 2015, and recorded with the FreeWay Musical Collective. Click the album image to listen.

inversions

Recorded in 2014, these songs are sort of a chronicle of my journey through a pastoral burn-out last winter. They deal with themes of mental-health, spiritual burn-out and depression, but also with the inexorable presence of God in the midst of darkness. Click the album art to download.

soundings

soundings
click image to download
"soundings" is a collection of songs I recorded in September/October of 2013. Dealing with themes of hope, ache, trust and spiritual loss, the songs on this album express various facets of my journey with God.

bridges

bridges
Click to download.
"Bridges" is a collection of original songs I wrote in the summer of 2011, during a soul-searching trip I took out to Alberta; a sort of long twilight in the dark night of the soul. I share it here in hopes these musical reflections on my own spiritual journey might be an encouragement to others: the sun does rise, blood-red but beautiful.

echoes

echoes
Prayers, poems and songs (2005-2009). Click to download
"echoes" is a collection of songs I wrote during my time studying at Briercrest Seminary (2004-2009). It's called "echoes" partly because these songs are "echoes" of times spent with God from my songwriting past, but also because there are musical "echoes" of hymns, songs or poems sprinkled throughout the album. Listen closely and you'll hear them.

Accidentals

This collection of mostly blues/rock/folk inspired songs was recorded in the spring and summer of 2015. I call it "accidentals" because all of the songs on this project were tunes I have had kicking around in my notebooks for many years but had never found a "home" for on previous albums. You can click the image to download the whole album.

blogs I follow

random reads

Readings, 2020

Readings, 2020
Paradise Lost, John Milton

Adorning the Dark, Andrew Peterson

The Soul of Shame, Curt Thompson

Cure for the Common Life, Max Lucado

Halos and Avatars, Craig Detweiller, ed.

Fool's Talk, Os Guinness

Brendan, Frederick Buechner

The Screwtape Letters

Surprised by Joy, C. S. Lewis

The Pilgrim's Regress, C. S. Lewis

Becoming Whole, Brian Finkert and Kelly Kapic

Real Sex, Lauren Winner

Out of the Silent Planet, C. S. Lewis

Voyage to Venus, C. S. Lewis

That Hideous Strength, C. S. Lewis

Till We Have Faces, C. S. Lewis

Screwtape Proposes a Toast, C. S. Lewis

Postcards from Narnia (Part I)

To this day I can still remember opening The Magician’s Nephew, the first book in the Chronicles of Narnia, back when I was 10 years old. My Dad had purchased me a complete box-set of the Narnia books, through the Scholastic Book Order from school, which was a bit surprising. This was the only time I can ever remember him even noticing the Scholastic Book Order forms I brought home each month. But he did. “Oh,” he said when he saw the Narnia books, “I read those as a kid and I think you’d really like them. Can I order them for you?”

A month later, there they were, on the teacher’s desk with the rest of the Scholastic Book Order purchases. This was novel enough, because I seldom had any items in the Scholastic Book Order when it arrived, and as the teacher read through the names and the kids came forward to retrieve their Scholastic treasures from her desk, I was expecting, like always, to be left out. And then, to my surprise (I’d actually forgotten about my Dad’s purchase), she said my name.

“Dale Harris, 1 box set of the Chronicles of Narnia.”

And I went forward and she put into my hand this mysteriously decorated box, all covered over with evocative drawings of dwarves and unicorns and on one side, a picture of a faun (though I did not know at the time that this is what it was called) standing in a snowy wood next to a lamp-post.

The box set actually remained untouched on my book shelf for months. It was just so mysterious, and really, other than my Dad’s recommend, I had no clue what I would find if I opened it. And I sort of forgot about them.

But then came the long, slow days of summer, and one afternoon when my usual pastimes had lost their luster, I saw this almost-magical looking box on the shelf and finally wondered what was inside.

Book 1: The Magician’s Nephew. In my mind’s eye I can still see myself stretching out on the couch in the sunlight and reading that first paragraph:

This is a story about something that happened long ago when your grandfather was a child. It is a very important story because it shows how all the comings and goings between our own world and the land of Narnia first began. In those days Mr Sherlock Holmes was still living in Baker Street and the Bastables were looking for treasure in the Lewisham Road. In those days, if you were a boy you had to wear a stiff Eton collar every day, and schools were usually nastier than now. But meals were nicer; and as for sweets, I won't tell you how cheap and good they were, because it would only make your mouth water in vain. And in those days there lived in London a girl called Polly Plummer.

By the time Polly and Digory had found their way into the Wood Between the Worlds, I was dully enthralled; by the last page I was mesmerized.

I read the rest of the books voraciously; and I can remember as vividly reading the last page of the last book, The Last Battle. I was lying in my bed on a Saturday morning, and I closed the back cover on the last page, and I lay there, completely still, staring at it for what seemed like three whole minutes. I knew I had just read something far more profound, and beautiful and meaningful than I could put into words, so I just lay there, letting it soak over me, hesitant to move for fear of breaking the spell.

I have read and re-read the series dozens of times since those days and each time I do I find new layers of profoundity, new gleams of beauty, new meanings that I hadn’t noticed before, even as an adult. Over the years, I have tried at various times to express the layers of meaning to be found in these deceptively simple children’s books; I have allegorized and interpreted and exegeted these books many times in my heart. And yet none of these efforts to go deeper have marred the simple joy I find in reading them. There is such a mystical quality to the stories, and such a purity to the prose they’re told in, that even today, I am still that 10 year old child stretching out on the couch, about to embark on a spiritual journey he knows not of, every time I come to them again.

I have been rereading them again this summer, and thought that it might make for an interesting blog series if I wrote up a few “postcards from Narnia”—that is , chose some of the especially magical or particularly pure parts and offered my best reading of them. If you’re a fan of the books, too, this may prompt your own journey of rediscovery. If you’re not a fan, it may inspire you to give them a try.

So over the next few months at terra incognita, I will be posting some “Postcards from Narnia,” as I travel once again to C. S. Lewis’s world within the wardrobe.

And as a teaser, let me offer this little tidbit, to whet your appetite. Scholars have often wondered if there was any inner logic to the scope and sequence of the work; that is to say: why seven books? And why do they unfold in such a seemingly haphazard way?

Recently, I came across the work of Dr. Michael Ward, author of “Planet Narnia: The Seven Heavens in the Imagination of C.S. Lewis.” He suggests that the seven books of the Narnia series were conceived as symbols of the seven planets in the Medieval European cosmology. While today we understand the solar system as having 8 planets (plus Pluto), in the geocentric system of the Medieval astronomers (which Lewis was an expert in), there were seven “planets”: The Sun, the Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn.

Dr. Ward’s reading—and he makes a compelling case—is that each of the books, in their themes, symbols and content, were meant to stand as symbols for one of these planets. You can read the whole article here:  http://blog.cslewis.com/narnia-and-the-seven-heavens/

In this reading, The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, with all its themes of kingship, is Jupiter, the king of the planets. Prince Caspian, with its themes of war and revival, is Mars, the war-god. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, with its journey into the east and the Rising Sun, is the Sun, and The Silver Chair, is the Moon. The Horse and His Boy is Mercury (Mercury governs Gemini, the twins, and The Horse and His Boy has both twin lions and twin boys in it...), The Magician’s Nephew is Venus (themes of creation, fertility abound, plus there is a “false Venus,” an “Ishtar” in the character of Queen Jadis), and The Last Battle, at the end of time, is Saturn (Saturn is named after the god of time; Father Time is his namesake).

No ten year old child, of course, could have known that when he opened that Scholastic Book box set, that they were about to take a spiritual journey through the seven heavens of the Medieval cosmology, but that is the wonder of these books, and the reason why, I hope, they deserve a few "postcards" like this.  Every reading yields fresh insight and yet no new insight detracts from the childlike wonder these books still produce in me.


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