Ever sat in a concert hall and been moved by the power of an orchestra? The stringed instruments express the flight of our hearts to somewhere out of this realm. The droning tones of the cello reach deeply down into our soul and draw out what is hidden there. We take to flight on the wings of melody. The squawking and squeaking of a single violin is transformed into song in symmetry with the whole orchestra. The flute flaps its wings and with airy flutterings dips, dives, and dances on the symphonic wind. And you… you sit in awed silence because it takes your breath away.
Then there are other forms of music. I dance to the enchanting lilt and rock of Indian music. The ring of tambourine, folk guitar and drum mingle into a frenzy of delight. The action and speed builds! It crescendos into a fury! Zing! Go the strings of my heart!
And then I’m caught up in another form. The Irish fiddle plays my legs like I’m a puppet on strings, until I fall into the modern sounds of the radio. Those wrenching tunes of a country-born lad who understands what it means to be human. It’s no glorious words or soul-raising orchestra, but it’s the song any one of us can sing to. Music is on the radio all the time, but have you stopped to listen?
Music is so diverse. How about the lilting, drifting, careless songs of jazzy pop? “Come away with me…” sings Norah Jones dreamily. The song nudges us and invites us on a train ride through the terrain of our thoughts, emotions, and dreamings. We stare out the windows of whimsy and fancy and sometimes foolishness. Come away with me are the words of every song, spoken or unspoken.
Yes, music speaks. It can tend, love, wound, and raise up. There is nothing music cannot stir up. We can also speak through music. In music we find a voice for the feeling that we buried so long ago we forgot it existed, or the feeling some of us have been longing to sing but been afraid to, or even the feeling we do not understand. The strings of music have the power to bind or to release those feelings. Are they strangling you? Or setting you free?
This Lent I fasted from listening to music. As I did I came to realize how much I LOVE music. I love music! I don’t know how I should live being deaf to music! So I gave up music this Lent precisely to meet its companion Silence and to listen to and attune my heart to God’s whispers.
It was hard, I admit. Often I seek music as an escape from the present reality or simply to entertain myself. But if we are constantly trying to lose ourselves in music, we have to ask ourselves “Why?” Why is my heart restless? Why do I seek a tune and a rhythm in my life?
Because you were born with one. Yes, from the thud of our first heartbeat, we have been created to join a beat and a melody, a song and a symphony, that has been going on for ages. We were created with the Song embedded in our very hearts. What song is this?
It is the song of eternity. It beats in our hearts to remind us of our destiny. It pounds in our bodies to shout out “This is what I’m living for!” It is a dance of life that continues on and we each have a part in it to play, to sing, to dance, to live.
My last blog entry left one reader in tears. I had not expected this. I was simply writing from the vulnerability of my heart, yet my writing had struck into song what she hardly knew how to sing herself. That’s music! That’s harmony with humanity.
The Easter season finds me rejoicing in the beauty and language of music. I sought the Lord in silence, who answered me in song. The Silence has taught me to listen. You see, when we are surrounded by noise all day every day, we stop listening. How far we’ve gone to classify some things as music that are only noises of dissonance, not harmony! What we need is to quite ourselves and to hear the music of heaven once more.