Risky Behavior

Of course I’ll hurt you. Of course you’ll hurt me. Of course we will hurt each other. But this is the very condition of existence. To become spring, means accepting the risk of winter. To become presence, means accepting the risk of absence. ― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

The words “risk” and “convention” don’t really belong in the same sentence, but I think we all have a conventional notion of what risky behavior is – something dangerous to our bodies, minds or souls. Drug abuse, driving while intoxicated, jumping out of airplanes or climbing mountains. And then we have to begin breaking risk into two categories. Those that are simply harmful, and those that promise in equal measure the potential for creating good or harm. Success or failure. Presence or absence.

There are those who find themselves in a moment when they can risk something big – a priest willing to give up his vocation and march in Selma, as we heard in the Easter sermon, for example. But who sets out to risk something that big, without having walked a road of many, many small risks that had created an inner voice along the way saying “yes” when everyone else is saying “no.”?

I’ve been thinking a lot about creativity lately. What is it, who has it, how is it demonstrated? I’m convinced that the world needs more of it, but how to nurture it in everyone? At its heart creativity is about taking risks, isn’t it? You’d be very surprised to learn how nervous I am about the risks I take as a church musician, hardly a risky occupation by any conventional standard. An hour-long Haydn string quartet on Good Friday – will people be bored or confused? A feminine pronoun-ed hymn with tambourine at the Vigil – will everyone think that’s just weird? These seem like laughably small decisions, these creative risks, but they might also be nurturing a spirit of readiness for bigger risks when the world calls.

We have just risked the winter of Lent. It felt long and dark and somber, but we’ve entered into the spring of Easter, and the risk was not only worth taking, it has prepared us for the risks we continually need to take in order to live fully as Christians.

SonyaFirst004

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6 Responses to Risky Behavior

  1. TimothyBoggs@aol.com says:

    Love this! I am sharing it with my parish! Thanks, Sonya Tim Boggs

    • sonyasutton says:

      Thank you Tim. I am honored. But I realized that I left out a key piece of information – the priest was going to march in Selma against his Bishop’s order, and so was willing to give up his vocation to do so. Makes a little more sense now!

  2. Bob Sellery says:

    Please don’t call your creations risks. Just keep up what you are doing. You can’t please everyone. Your own personal skills and creativity are what we need. I loved your music dedicated to Nelson Mandela. A friend is coming in as the president of a nondenominational church. They are wrestling with some of the same issues we are, how to attract more young people and keep the longtime members. The new president wrote in a strategic plan, “My commitment to
    crafting worship is to choose music that resonates with the scripture text and draws people to God. This can include many styles of music….”

  3. Bea Meyerson says:

    I thought the quartet on Good Friday was wonderful. That was unusual since I usually get restless before the end of an hour of classical music. The quartet was the most meaningful and soul reaching celebration of Good Friday that I have ever experienced. That was a good risk to take.

  4. Suzanne+ says:

    Amen and amen! I would go so far to say there can be no creativity without risk and I am glad that you are one of those who has the courage to do it. You inspire the rest of us!

  5. Bruce Barrow says:

    Thank you so much, Sonya, for taking the risks you do. As you know, we in Canterbury Choir sometimes fall a trifle short, but the challenges are worthy, and we grow. You probably have no idea how often you and your music program are favorably discussed when Alban’s groupies get together. For example, the Holy Week music was a major topic when the Romeos met last Thursday. Blessings!

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