Notes of Rest places meditations from a Bible passage and writings from Black contemplatives on a bed of music, cultivating stillness, introspection, and creativity in communities so that all may find rest.
Chicagoan Julian Davis Reid is a young artist-theologian who uses words and music to invite us into the restful life we were created to experience. He has created and refined Notes of Rest as an innovative form of contemplative experience, a kind of “Musica Divina.”
Julian’s approach uses the beauty and spiritual power of music to help workshop participants find their way to a quiet, reflective interior space where we can be fully receptive to grace, or what Thomas Keating described as “God’s presence and action within.”
The program is as follows:
10:00am – Noon: Centering Prayer and Notes of Rest
The workshop will begin with a 20-30 minute Centering Prayer practice led by Leslie Geer of Contemplative Outreach Atlanta. This introductory meditation is designed to expand our experience and open our hearts, preparing us for what comes next.
Then, Julian will lead a Notes of Rest experience for approximately 90 minutes. During the workshop, short sacred texts are read, interpreted musically, and then reflected upon individually and in small groups. Creativity is a key part of the experience, with participants encouraged to journal, write reflections or song lyrics, dance, or otherwise go where the spirit leads them. As the workshop wraps up, all participants join together to share and reflect on their experience together.
Noon – 12:30pm: Break
12:30pm – 1:30pm: Optional Lecture and Q&A
Following the Notes of Rest workshop, there will be a half-hour break, and then Julian will offer an (optional) 45-minute lecture on music and Black contemplative life and their unique contributions to Christian mysticism. This lecture was recently presented for the first time at Duke Divinity School where it received a very positive response. The after-event lecture will conclude with an open, 15-minute question and answer period.
Notes of Rest is sponsored as a collaborative effort by the Contemplative Outreach chapters of Chicago, Atlanta, and Colorado. We are delighted to introduce you to this unique form of contemplative experience. Notes of Rest workshops have been well-received at Yale Divinity School, Duke Divinity School, the Center for Religion and Environment (University of the South), First United Methodist Church of Oak Park, Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church (Atlanta, GA), and other locations.
About Julian Davis Reid
Hailing from the Southwest side of Chicago, Julian grew up playing classical, gospel, and jazz piano. He attended Yale College, where he earned his B.A. in philosophy (2013) and took classes in music theory. He served as keyboardist and musical director of Black Church at Yale for all four years and also led his own working jazz trio. His thesis explored the political lessons learned from being a member of a jazz quartet. After graduating, he served Yale as a campus minister through InterVarsity Christian Fellowship and as a non-denominational pastor for Black Church at Yale. He remained active on the New Haven jazz scene, mentored by bassist Jeff Fuller.
Julian married his college sweetheart, Carmen, and together they moved to Atlanta for graduate school. Julian matriculated into Candler School of Theology at Emory University as a Woodruff Scholar, where he earned a Master of Divinity with a focus in Scripture, Theology and the Arts (2019). For his work in biblical studies, he won the Chad Davis Memorial Award, awarded to a student who has shown particular skill in biblical scholarship. His master’s thesis was on the theological implications of wordless improvisation.
Julian has taught and lectured at Candler, Garrett Evangelical-Theological Seminary, Yale Divinity School, Columbia Theological Seminary, Morehouse College, City Seminary of New York, and the American Academy of Religion. He collaborates with Dr. Ted Smith on Theological Education Between the Times, a project funded by the Lilly Endowment to help theological educators navigate the shifting terrain of North American theological education in the 21st century.
Julian is thankful to be back in Chicago. He has continually played in church throughout his life, and has directed for a wide array of congregations, from non-denominational to Roman Catholic. Now he serves principally at Renewal Church of Chicago and First United Methodist Church of Oak Park.
While in seminary, He co-founded the band The JuJu Exchange. The other members are his blood brother Nova Zaii (also known as Everett Reid) and musical brother Nico Segal (fka Donnie Trumpet). The JuJu Exchange is an instrumental group that blends acoustic and digital music to cultivate wonder and trust. Their first release, Exchange (2017), debuted at #1 on iTunes Jazz Charts. The band’s most recent release is The Eternal Boombox EP (2020), which is a musical accompaniment to the stages of grief. It emerged from the band’s navigation of the pandemic along with the rest of us. The JuJu Exchange has performed across the country at various jazz festivals, has conducted master classes at the Apple Store and for the Jazz Institute of Chicago, and has been featured in TEDxChicago and Chicago Ideas Week.
Julian has been blessed to collaborate or share the stage with many artists spanning various literary and musical genres, from jazz to classical to hip-hop to gospel. This list includes Chance the Rapper, Jennifer Hudson, Derrick Hodge, Vic Mensa, Peter CottonTale, Tank and the Bangas, Jamila Woods, Dixson, Abiodun Oyewole of The Last Poets, the Clark Atlanta University Philharmonic Society, Rev. Dr. Dwight Andrews, Tiff Joy, Dr. Jimmie Abbington, Dr. Alysia Nicole Harris, Zora Howard, Josephine Lee and Chicago Children’s Choir and Andrew Bird.