Yesterday was a great day. Worship service in the morning where we sang a special arrangement of “God Rest You, Merry Gentlemen” in the church choir. Then later in the day I jumped on a bus with 23 friends of the church and visited shut ins and sang Christmas carols to them. Been doing that for 20+ years now.
This time, I specifically recall the health care center dining area at Plymouth Place. We had just gathered there and started singing a carol. A man visiting his mother pushed her wheelchair right up to us and she began singing with us in her soft voice. Almost a whisper. As the song continued, her face lit up –as did her son’s. It was clear to me she once had a very good voice and probably enjoyed singing in her younger days. Her son knew that. I could tell the carol was transformative for her–she was lost in the moment. Maybe she recalled the music of her younger years—a memorable Christmas concert or perhaps a Bing Crosby rendition of her favorite carol. And she was not the only one whose countenance was transformed with our caroling. Everyone we visited that afternoon was so appreciative and, well, just smiled broadly and teared up. So did us carolers.
That is one place where God dwells in my everyday life. In music. It is God’s way of communicating in a language everyone can understand. No explanation necessary. No concordance needed. Footnotes, useless. It frees you up and puts the cares of the day high up on the shelf where you can’t reach them even if you tried. How can you listen to the Hallelujah Chorus and not be transported to nearness to God? God is right there, holding your hand in the music. If you find yourself getting a bit weepy while listening to a special piece of music, revel in it.
This time of year also brings some painful memories. My sister lost her son the day after Christmas when he was just 3 years old. Being the pallbearer to the tiny coffin of my nephew was one of the toughest things I’ve ever experienced. But what I recall most from his memorial service was that a family friend (who had also tragically lost a young child) picked up a guitar and sang for us the tune, Tears in Heaven. It is a song written and performed by Eric Clapton in memory of his deceased child. The fact that this musician was able to share his grief with my sister and her family through this song about grief was beyond words. I cried like a baby, as I am sure did everyone else in attendance that day. Music is like that—it is God’s way of helping you grieve in a way which mere words could never do and yet also transport you to tears of happiness—just like that dear lady and her son at Plymouth Place. Can you imagine a world without music? I can’t. Thank God.