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Songs in the Night

My sister told me to look up a remarkable woman, Jane Marczewski, yesterday. I listened to her songs and wisdom all night. Her joyful vulnerability, as much as her beautiful ballad, "It's OK," won the hearts of the judges and audience of America's Got Talent in the summer of 2021.

If you, like me, weren’t following her story, it is well worth hearing. Jane’s stage name, Nightbirde, came to her after she dreamt about a flock of birds in a tree singing joyfully in the middle of the night. After dreaming about them three times in one night, she awakened to find the flock of birds singing outside of her bedroom window, no sign of light on the horizon. Their faith in the dawn inspired her.

Jane spoke with Chrysteannah, the founder of the Teenage Mental Love YouTube channel, in 2020. In my favourite moments of this powerful interview, Jane said:

God usually doesn’t take your pain away…but what He will do is add things to your pain, like promises, and joy, and friendships, and secrets that are whispered to you in the middle of the night…. He will turn it into something that’s completely profound.



God usually doesn’t take your pain away…but what He will do is add things to your pain, like promises, and joy, and friendships, and secrets that are whispered to you in the middle of the night…. He will turn it into something that’s completely profound. – Jane Marczewski (Nightbirde)


Some of the metaphorical “dark nights of the soul” that Jane shared were her three life-threatening battles with cancer and her divorce. When I’ve gone through hard times, including a long illness, a cancer scare and a divorce, God didn’t answer my cries of “Why?,” but God faithfully responds every time I cry “Help!” – not to take me out of my troubles, but to bring me through them. God promises never to leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5), although we may spend days, months or years walking through “the valley of the shadow of death” (Psalm 23:4).

I think what touched people most deeply about Jane was her vulnerable authenticity. In her debut on America’s Got Talent, she didn’t immediately reveal her life struggles; like any ambitious young artist, her goal was to crush it singing her original music. But as the judges teased out her backstory, she confided that she preferred to call her faith in overcoming cancer “rebellious hope” instead of blind denial. Isn’t that what walking by faith, not by sight, really means (2 Corinthians 5:7)?

My mother struggled with addiction. When she finally accepted the truth – that she couldn’t overcome addiction without friends to support her and a miraculous intervention from her Higher Power – she took many leaps of faith. One was to say "yes" to reading in front of fellow addicts at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. Later, she told me that to her surprise, instead of being rejected, she “hyperventilated her way to popularity.” Mom was willing to be authentic – terrified and stumbling, but willing. Whereas her “pulled together” self created barriers to deep connections, when she became vulnerable, people felt free to share their authentic selves with her, as well. It became a virtuous cycle of revelation and encouragement through which they all grew profoundly. With new friends and her Higher Power, Mom did overcome her addiction, and even become grateful for it, because its secret blessings were maturity and authentic relationships.

One of Nightbirde’s songs is Bubbles, which speaks of the isolation that people in pain face. We can feel tremendous pressure to put on a façade and put our polished self forward, especially on social media. Without people that we can reveal our authentic selves to, we can begin to feel invisible. But courageous authenticity can burst the bubble and lead to true connections. Even the courage to admit out loud that you are struggling may help someone else stuck in their own bubble realize that they aren’t alone.

My friend, you are not alone. In this life, we all suffer, at different times in different ways, so why not suffer together? After all, we are One Global Family.[1] Like the birds that inspired Nightbirde’s name sang joyfully in the depth of the night, we, too, can sing in the dark. When my night is long, light a candle for me, and gently raise a refrain. When your night seems to last forever, I’ll light one for you, and sing, “It’s OK, it’s OK, it’s OK, it’s OK if you’re lost. We’re all a little lost and it’s alright.”[2] Keep believing; eventually, the sun will rise. Joy will come in the morning (Psalm 30:5).

Sadly, on February 19, 2022, Jane Marczewski died. She will never sing to us again on this side of heaven, but her words will remain with us forever. I believe her spirit is eternal, and is thriving in a new form. I won’t ask God to explain why this bright soul was taken so early, because I’m not good at hearing answers to “why,” but I am grateful that God accompanied her on her journey, in this life and into the next. I will try, with the courage that Nightbirde epitomized, to look full in the face of God and hear whispers in the night – of audacious dreams, rebellious hope, and authentic friends to journey with.

My name is Carole, and I’m your sister.

[1] One Global Family is the lens through which I believe our shared humanity can bring peace to the world.

[2] Nightbirde. Lyrics to “Its OK.” Single, 2020.


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