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Freedom Song: Faith, Abuse, Music and Spirituality

A Lived Experience of Celebration


June Boyce-Tillman

This book is an autobiographical account of the development of an authentic interiority. It charts the way in which the Christian faith in which the author was enculturated was refined by her lived experience of music, abuse, forgiveness, interfaith dialogue, gender and vocation (into teaching and priesthood). The author describes how music and spirituality can create a route into forgiveness by creatively transforming («mulching») childhood abuse into celebration. Her work challenges established therapeutic models and suggests a variety of alternative tools, including created ritual.

The volume is set out as a series of meditations on the themes contained in the Lord’s Prayer; it can be read in separate sections, as well as in its totality. The author’s life is perceived as a crystal that can be viewed through various lenses, illustrated by different styles of writing. These include narrative accounts written in a personal style; hymns, songs and poems that condense her thinking around a theme; and more academic reflection, using other people’s writing and experiences to understand her own.

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Chapter 14: And Lead Us Not into Temptation: Motherhood


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And Lead Us Not into Temptation: Motherhood

Figure 15: Richard and Matthew aged about five and eight.


One of my mother’s favourite stories was about her first trip to London. When she came back she told her parents that she had not gone near Thames station. She had misunderstood the petition not to ‘lead us into temptation’ in the Lord’s Prayer, as many do.

In fact, my mother unconsciously led me into many temptations, as we shall see later. Because of this relationship, motherhood and marriage were ← 295 | 296 → fraught with temptation for me; behaving with integrity has been a struggle as has distinguishing guidance from temptation. There are times when I wonder if I should have borne children. I do not now regret my choice, though in many ways it was made under parental and cultural pressure.

You will see how I struggled with temptations in the birth of my first child and learned about temptations in the world from my younger son. I was more depressed when he was born – my mother was by then living with us. Life was hard; my mother-in-law was dying from cancer resulting from years of smoking to survive what could only be described as one hell of a life – a husband lost in the war and believed dead, but returning badly shell-shocked and condemnatory of her with a disabled son.

I was...

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