Returning to God, with Hannah Bakke

This month is a special treat. 

Nathan and I have stepped into the roll of curator, handing the microphone over to some talented colleagues in the music and deep care departments.

We hope you love them even half as much as we do.

Returning

Each artist will be presenting a song and a writing that explore their own take on the theme of “Returning.”

Today you get to meet this beautiful soul…

Hannah Bakke

Hannah Bakke is 3 shots of espresso with a dash of nutmeg, which is to say; energetic, sweet, and will remain fresh for up to 9 months if stored properly.

Born in St. Paul, Hannah now calls Minneapolis home. Armed with degrees in Theatre Art and Philosophy from Concordia College (go cobbers!),

Hannah works as an actor, musician, teaching artist, and barista extraordinaire. She has coached young actors from Louisiana to Washington, and currently teaches theatre classes with Lyric Arts, a small professional theatre in Anoka, MN.

Hannah plays guitar and mandolin, and has a deep love for folk music like Peter, Paul and Mary; Simon and Garfunkel, and Anaīs Mitchell. Favorite things include swing dancing, journaling, and earl grey tea with milk and sugar. 

You can find more about Hannah on her accounts on YouTubeInstagram, and Facebook.

“Cottonwood”

by Hannah Bakke

When my husband’s great great grandfather learned that records kept about his hometown were going to be tossed out, he took action.

Armed with tattered papers and a middle school education, he bought a typewriter, taught himself to type, and wrote “The History of Ann Township.” Fifty-eight years later I found beauty in the midst of a pandemic.

Coincidence? I think not.

Sitting outside in the June sun I saw a flurry of cottonwood “snowflakes” glimmering lazily on a breeze. “Oh to be a cottonwood in June”, I thought.

Upon sharing this musing with my father-in-law he was quick to bring me this book about Cottonwood County, containing not only the history of his great grandfather’s little town, but a poem about the cottonwood tree that grew next to the church. 

Serendipity does not mean “everything happens for a reason”. To be honest I don’t love that phrase. Often said after some tragedy, it feels flippant and cliché.

However, the more I lean into the idea that these “coincidences” are more like “nudges in the right direction”, the closer I feel to God.

The funny thing is, the more I point them out the more they seem to happen. For me, this serendipity mindset has been my return to God. It took all these seemingly coincidental moments for this song to make it into your ears.

I hope it serves as a reminder to return to those moments we so easily forget and give them a chance to be important.

based on a poem by E.K. Kopperud

O’er the church a monarch stood Observing all, a cottonwood Tall and strong
Steward of all she could see, the picnic yard
A stained glass glimpse of the sanctuary

Ooh to be a cottonwood in June
Oh to be a cottonwood in June

She heard new voices find their home
Amongst the fevered prayers of farmers who turned 
The rich black loam into stalks of grain
Reaching for the sky
She witnessed love grow from initials carve
By bashful sweethearts in her bark
To vows sang loud for God and everyone

Ooh the things you see when you’re a cottonwood in June
Oh to be a cottonwood in June

The roads got better, buildings got taller
The church remodeled and modernized
But no matter the changes, the same hymns rang out from inside

Now she stands
Of lofty height
O’er this peaceful, hallowed place
Where settler, traveler, young and old
Found some love, returned to grace 
Brave old monarch, we greet thee with honor
You have taught us how we shall dwell
With quiet kindness and open minds
You have done your duty well

Ooh to be a cottonwood in June
Oh to be a cottonwood in June

This work from Hannah, along with that of our three other September collaborators (Sherdonna Denholm, Joe Danielson, and Ami Andersen) is now available for preorder as a digital or print collection.  

Sherdonna’s contribution has continued to be well-loved across the interwebs.  If you missed it, here’s all of that goodness.

Thank you for spending time with us, and with our friends. We appreciate your care about music and beauty in our world.

Love, 
Nathan and Naomi