Saturday, February 25, 2012

Dissolving Into Music

I often watch my son when he listens to music on his mp3, and I see him close his eyes to go into his own world where there is only him and the music. I have often done the same thing. 

I remember a time when he was first learning the guitar and I played along with him as he put his notes together. He was almost breathless with excitement that he could play together with someone else.  I remember that feeling, too.

I’ve read some of the things I’ve written about music and I’ve tried to understand how my relationship with it has evolved.  I’ve spoken of music as if it has been a turbulent love affair. I love it. I hate it. It’s boring and has let me down. It came back to me and I remembered why I loved it.  We’ve done everything except agree to “just be friends.”

I think it’s because for a long time, I associated music with God, as if it were a tangible version of the Holy Spirit. It was my way to be in touch with the Divine Entity. If a piece of music was especially effective in church, it could give me chills and I’d feel the Presence. I’d find assurance and comfort in that feeling.  And when I lost it, I felt betrayed by the music.  Over time, I’ve associated it less and less in this way, until it seemed a hollow, mocking thing. 

But lately, music has become wonderful again, only I don’t associate it with God’s presence anymore.

I hear it as the expression of the musicians and the composers.  And that’s pretty wonderful. It’s wonderful when one of the kids at church struggles through a song in front of the church—because that’s the child’s expression.  It’s wonderful when a musician with years of training performs for an audience because I’m hearing a testimony of that person’s life.  It’s wonderful when I get to perform because I’m doing something that expresses something about me.

I especially love singing and playing with a group of friends and it all comes together to sound right. I love getting people at church to sing the old familiar songs with me, perhaps showing them that they still have music inside them.

It’s still spiritual to me, but it has more to do with my spirit.

I think that when I die, my soul will dissolve into music and rise into heaven to combine with everyone else’s melodies in a grand symphony. 

And maybe, just maybe, I’ll see God there.  

Monday, February 13, 2012

Professional Crisis

Egad! I’ve become one of those pansy-assed sissies that sip tea instead of coffee.  It’s not even real tea. It’s herbal tea. 

You can’t be a preacher in these parts and drink hot tea.  If you want to relate to people, you have to be able to plunk yourself down at any time of the day and drink the gawdawfulest, caffeine laced, black coffee that has distilled on the burner all day until it has become a near solid.  

They teach this in first year seminary. 

I now know that I’m in full professional decline. First, I started adding cream and sweetener (in seminary, this would lower your average by one letter grade). Then I went to decaf which is the worst kind of hypocrisy. 

To say it’s not my fault, to protest that caffeine now makes my heart race and my chest flutter—well it’s just sad. My colleagues shift uncomfortably and look at each other with sideward glances as they assure me that they don’t think any less of me. 

But I know what they’re saying when I’m out of earshot. They’re saying that I brought it on myself, that it has to be my own fault. 

But they’d be wrong, I protest. It could happen to any one of them, too.  As Job once told his so called friends, “Look on me and be afraid!” 

Next thing you know, I’ll have to give up fried chicken.

And that really hurts.