Sunday, August 07, 2011

Don't Know Much About.... Music

It has been quite humbling to me to realize how little I really know about music. What I mean by that is I have been fixated, without quite realizing it, on the certain aspects of music that have come to resonate with me (and I'll get to exactly what those are) while not even realizing that other more technical aspects exist, practically.

The way I look at it, if I were in a room filled with the "general population," I would probably know a bit more about music than other folks. But if I were in a room filled with musicians, I would know far less than most everyone else. And I'm fine with that. It does make me just a little sad that I didn't pursue more formal study when I was a child. But then again I get a little sad when I think of all the other major career paths I would have liked to perfect in this life but haven't started in on. There is something in common to all of them, and I am on the right path to distilling that in the life I do actually have.

So, this realization of what I am not, and of what I know not, is really a means to help me realize who I am and what I have, and what the value of music is for me. Or what it is about it that drives me, that makes me love it -- not necessarily understand it or analyze it or perfect it -- but love it. I realize I am only going to love something if it draws me to my Beloved, to God, to the mystical reality behind all that is. To me, the experience of music is about the experience of healing, which is none other than the experience, the reality of being loved by the Most Holy Trinity.

Mystical theologians talk about how God created the world with music, and how music is made to speak a language of the redemption we find in Christ, with its harmony, its patterns, even its dissonances and non-resolutions. So I suppose I'd say that while I don't excel in the technical aspects of music, I delight in the mystical aspects of it. The fact that I cannot produce gorgeous music on an instrument myself only serves to amplify the comparison to the kingdom of God. (I can produce adequate music on guitar; as a pastor-friend of mine used to say "It's close enough for jazz.") What I mean is that the best music is created in community, with many parts, many gifts joining together. In the Church, although we can pray for our own healing and enlightenment, the biblical paradigm is to seek others to pray and minister healing to us (see James 5:14, for example). God has created us to be totally dependent on Him and interdependent on one another.

God has used music again and again to bring healing into my life. Finally, I'm seeing the trend, and it blows my mind. It seems God loves to sing to me. How can I keep from doing anything less in response? Music can make my spirit soar, my soul ache with a beauty beheld, my will firm in its choice to follow Christ, my heart happy to be a living, breathing woman. To me, these are all aspects of healing. Hearing music reminds me I am not alone; I have companions traveling the road to Zion with me. That is healing. Music gives me the courage to love. That is a grace. These are all immeasurable gifts that I can never give myself. God gives me these, through His children. And I am very happy to be one of His children through whom He can give gifts to others. When I cantor at my parish and people stop and thank me, I am very much aware that God has given them something through my instrumentation. This seems to be God's way: first He fills us in a certain way, then He gives through us to others in that way. All I can say is thank you, Lord, for using me to bless others like you have used others to bless me. Lord, you don't need any of us, but the fact that you make us your co-workers is yet another sign of your incredible love.

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