The Cross and Crow

Art by Bre McDaniel

For a long while, I have had the image of a cross and crow in my mind. It first came from walking down Campbell Street in East Vancouver and seeing a crow perched on top of the cross that adorns the Holy Trinity Russian Orthodox Church. This image stayed with me and rose again a few years ago as I was preparing to enter into the task of songwriting again. As I set out to write the songs for this album I felt drawn to the image as a metaphor for a place of tension that I often inhabit, the tension between the grit of the world and the ascendant of the spiritual. While my theological mind rejects this sort of sacred/secular split (it is all holy! every square inch is claimed!) it is a tension that I feel in my day to day. This is a tension that I am pulled into deeper when I read the gospels and I as I continue to attempt to navigate my life in a fully conscious way taking seriously the life, words, and ongoing influence of Jesus the Christ, the man and also the mystical Messiah. This song speaks of my own journey. It speaks to the fact that I both know what I am oriented to and am completely lost. It speaks to the prayer that returns to me at times, praying that the Christ would lead me, confessing how lost I get when I navigate on my own. It also speaks to how much I love this world, the grit of it, and of the deep hope I hold for the world while also of the way I feel complicit in the forces that seem intent on the destruction of this world. 

The cross and the crow

You lead the way
I’ll follow quick behind
Right on your neck
I’m ready to abscond
The cross and crow
together in the sky
The lost and found
They need eachothers touch


You lead the way
I give up all control
I lost the path
Markers long ago
The cross and crow
together keep me here
hope for the world
the fear that I’m killing it


You lead the way
I’ll close my eyes and trust
I think You know
That I have said too much
The cross and crow
They burn into my arms
I’m marked for life
lost if you lead me wrong


You lead the way
I’ll follow quick behind
Right on your neck
I’m ready to abscond


Words and Music by Peter La Grand

I’m releasing an album

Here are some words I read out on the album release on saturday night.

I’m releasing an album. Perhaps you, like me, have a voice in your head questioning why I should do this. Or perhaps it is just me, but since we’re here, let me tell you about this voice because it is an important part of the release of this album. This voice of mine has a few names. Steven Pressfield calls it the resistance. Some give it other names, some friendly, some mean. I call it the voice of Peter—because it is me. This voice tells me a lot about music, mostly some variation on the theme of 

“It is ridiculous for you to write, let alone record and produce music. Do you really think that the world needs some more songs from a 40-year-old white guy with a scratchy voice, ham-fisted lyrics, and slightly above average musicianship?”

There is, of course, no good answer to this question. Like the classic no-win question: 

“have you quit your no-good cheating ways?”

You are damned by admission no matter what answer you give.

But here’s the thing. 

Though this voice is part of me, 

is a voice I have to interact with every day,

 and is a voice that makes sense….

….it is not the only voice!

There are other voices—voices of people like Ani Difranco, Seth Godin, Steven Pressfield, and Michelle Obama.

Voices like those of the poets we are hearing from tonight.

There are the voices of friends from far and near who tell me they want to hear what I have to say. 

There is my own voice when I speak to others, which I hear saying to them:

“We need you and we need your voice desperately. We won’t make it without everyone’s voice—including yours!”

Finally, there is a still small voice whispering through the scriptures and holy books, the poets, the life of Jesus, the people in my neighbourhood, and my children, 

incessantly insisting that the particular that is me matters, that I am a beloved in whom the CREATOR is well pleased.

This chorus of voices is much nicer than my inner critic and makes for a better world. 

Then the choice of whether to create and use my voice becomes a choice of whether to choose life or to choose death. All my life so far there has been something in me that chooses death and long for death. 

Much, if not all, of the good in my life, has come from kicking at this voice and instead choosing life and hope, and clinging to this choice with everything I have as if my life depends on it. 

And, of course, my life does depend on it.

So does yours.

And my life depends on your voice.

And so on and so forth. 

As papa Wendell Berry says, there is no global action, only local action that, if done by enough, can serve to save the world. Or, like my professor, Chris Overvorde insisted to a group of us talking about racial reconciliation 

“This will only happen when every one of us and every person loves their neighbour as themselves.”

So, while the voice in me still wonders aloud “who needs this? What do you think you are doing? Stop!” The part of me that hopes, that is awake to poetry, insists that all voices are important, and my own voice is included in that. 

I am counted in their number. 

I can’t imagine how my voice will help, 

but my job is not to figure that out but to speak.

To you who are listening, I hope this small batch of songs and this small batch of words brings you hope and perhaps a moment of peace amidst the fullness of your life. I would love to hear from you your own voice, and if these songs and words resonate with you. 

As papa Wendell also says

Practice resurrection 

Peter

14 september 2019

What a night!

Thank you to all who came to last night’s release. It was a beautiful night, rich in words and people. Thank you especially to all who helped me with the night: Jordan Klassen, Ben Appenheimer, Bre McDaniel, Kurt Armstrong, Lance Odegard, Mike Deboer, Rebecca Deboer, Celine Chuang, Kristen La Grand, Andrew Ledger, Frank Schimunek, Jodi Spargur, and everyone I forgot! Thank you especially to Brad Buhr for getting the photos above! Music now available on the usual online places like itunes and spotify. Please add me to your playlists, stream round the clock, etc.!

This is a long post – but with BIG payoff. We are thrilled to be releasing a recording of the much beloved “Who Will Roll Away the Stone?” in anticipation of easter morning. The only catch is that we hope you will wait until easter morning to listen to it. That being said, if you can’t wait (we couldn’t) and listen to it now, please listen to it again on easter morning, ok?

This is a joyful song for easter morning, remembering how the women first came to find the tomb empty and heard the good news that Jesus had (and has) risen from the grave. We are thrilled to have been able to record this song with help from our friends the Starcaptains—their joyful noises make this track come alive and communicate well the true joy of the good news of easter (check out all their stuff at starcaptains.com)