Ileana Santamaria's work of poetry responds to the theme of "Friend," inspired by several passages of scripture: Song of Songs 5:16; John 8:12; 14:6; 15:13.
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Song of Solomon 5:16
16 His mouth is most sweet: yea, he is altogether lovely. This is my beloved, and this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem.
12 ¶ Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.
6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
Borrowing the beautiful words of the Shulamite and juxtaposing them with Jesus’ words about sacrificial love as the ultimate expression of friendship, I’ve attempted in this piece to stand in the sometimes uncertain, heady place where erotic, romantic love and other-seeking friendly devotion joyfully unite to create the “haven in a heartless world” that was and is a reality for the Shulamite and Solomon and for so many others. The character here is exuberantly and optimistically getting ahead of herself as it remains unclear whether her friend desires to be her beloved. She wishes to be the Shulamite and to love her beloved as woman and with a Christ-like, sacrificial love that rejoices in their ultimate hope, together, even while still on earth – how much more so upon return to the “true country” (and here I’ve borrowed liberally from C.S. Lewis and Tim Keller, authors to whom my intellectual and spiritual debt is great). This is an invitation – simple, joyful and not a little wistful, childlike, and completely vulnerable – to take the hand of one who dares to love him and embark together on the great adventure of our journey back to the Throne of God.
The piece was initially intended to be only spoken word, but Kamel Boutros, a friend and musical collaborator who has set my poems to music in the past, suggested that parts of the piece should be sung and wrote a lovely melody that highlighted the central themes of vulnerability and childlike joy nicely. He also accompanied the sung parts. My sincere thanks go out to him for contributing his great talent, creativity, and time.
Ileana Santamaría began the performing artist life as an aspiring Latin singer over a decade ago, embarking on the long journey of fulfilling an aspiration rooted in an eclectic, music-filled childhood. After much meandering, following (mostly unwittingly) where the Lord led, she happened upon a voice teacher that opened up her voice and found beauty in it, a surprise to Ileana, who had long struggled with vocal technique and producing healthy, beautiful sound. While waiting for the surprise of getting to sing, her Heavenly Father bestowed upon her many other gracious gifts – a knack for foreign languages, work in an international organization, friends from many countries and walks of life, and a talent for and enjoyment of crafting spoken word poetry, which Ileana first dabbled in producing and performing in her college years.