I was so tired last night, not just physically, but mentally and emotionally. Two members from Shepherd King died from cancer last week. Being with their families and sharing in their grief left me feeling sad and drained. Not only that, but my husband has been trying to find a job for such a long time - we think he might get hired soon, but we're not sure. As the months go by and he remains jobless I worry about his self esteem; it is such a discouraging process for him. Of course I have prayed for each of these things and will continue praying about them, but last night I just felt numb and weary.
A few weeks ago we were driving through Austin with the radio on and a certain song caught my attention. I didn't hear the name of the song or the band, but I've been thinking about it ever since. I kept meaning to track it down from the few words I remembered and then either buy the CD or download the song. Last night I finally did that; after just a little searching I discovered the song is called "Kandi" and is sung by One Eskimo. I went to Amazon and downloaded it onto my ipod.
Of course then I had to listen to it a few times. And since the ipod was plugged in and playing, I let it continue through a cycle of music that included some of my favorites: "Heavenly Day" by Patti Griffin, "Goodbye to Old Missoula" by Willis Alan Ramsey, "What's Been Going On" by Amos Lee, "When I Was Drinking" by Hem. Listening to the music - singing along - I was lifted out of my funk and up into another realm. My whole being felt lighter, less burdened. The restorative power of music had given me release.
Martin Luther said "when we sing, we pray twice." That is absolutely true. I assume Luther was referring to sacred music since its words and melodies are intended to guide our worship. Several hymns have been running through my mind lately - "Blessing and Honor and Glory and Power," and "Crown Him with Many Crowns" - each of which has turned my thoughts away from worry to the strength and goodness of God. Sacred music of all kinds can guide our hearts and spirits from sorrow to peace.
But it isn't only sacred music that helps us communicate with God. Secular music can also be like "prayer" when it articulates, truthfully, our own experiences. Music becomes a channel for us to lay our hearts open to God, expressing our frustrations, our hopes, our sorrows. Even if the subject matter of the song differs from our present struggles, the desire or the pathos in the music speaks for us in our troubles. And relief comes because we have voiced our grief or our fear or our enthusiasm with genuine emotion.
God hears us when we pray, and that includes when our deepest yearnings are expressed in song - sacred or secular. Music lets us convey what is in our hearts, and it carries us to the heart of God. What a blessed communion when we reveal ourselves and find, in turn, that God's welcome and love have embraced us.