Music is an incredible gift that I don’t entirely understand, but I do embrace.
Just now as I was trying to start this post several different ways, I realized that I often link thoughts with songs in a conceptual way that doesn’t always involve matching words. My last attempt at an “opening” sounded like something banged out on a harmonica in the Appalachian Mountains.
Noting this, I then realized that the whole purpose for sitting down to write a post was because God gave me a cool gift last night through a series of songs and this is what I wanted to share.
Maybe I’m not making sense?
Okay, so this weekend I was sick. Weird sick. A combination of several things that piled up and kept me in bed sleeping for many hours. Monday I was still not well, but I decided that if I couldn’t work, at least I could spend the day with God in a purposeful way. I sat in a cozy armchair for many hours with my journal, a big bottle of water (still sick, remember) and a roll of toilette paper (for my nose). I listened to Rich Mullins, I asked God real questions and waited for his response…
I spent some time with silence. I did a lot of crying. I think I had waited too long to have this kind of heart to heart with my Papa and it was pretty messy.
It was then that I thought of the lyrics to this Over the Rhine song;
That’s the trouble with you and me
We always hit the bottom ‘for we get set free
I’m so far down
I’m beginning to breathe
This was somehow comforting. As I got ready for bed I decided to put some music on again. The first song made me want to dance. So I did. It was pathetic, but cathartic. Then, as I lay down, each consecutive song played its own music video in my head. I think it may have been another Over the Rhine song which prompted the mini video I wanted to share here with you.
The song is like this, sad and slow. Admittedly, I have a high tolerance for melancholy music. It possesses something of a hopeful longing which soothes me. As the song started, I had this mental picture of a girl standing on a dock. She is very sad and is tying an anchor to her ankle. She then dives in and falls, swirls, slowly, drifting to the bottom of the ocean.
When she gets to the bottom, to her shock, she finds the wooden door of a little cabin. There is a warm light glowing inside, so she knocks. Mind you, this is not a Kincaid painting. The girl is drenched in an inky black sadness and she’s dragging an anchor. She knocks because somehow she is still conscious at the bottom of the sea.
The door opens to her knock and this warm firelight fills up the whole room. Inside, dry and beckoning, is Jesus. He simply hugs the girl and kisses her cheeks and wipes her tears and then, with a smile, he turns their hug into a waltz. The waltz starts solemn enough, but soon turns silly and they are both laughing as they dance around the cabin.
When I experienced depression as a teenager, I remember that my most terrible moment involved this beautiful song by Peter Gabriel called Washing of the Water. Back then, it somehow became an anthem for despair, but now, many years later, I see that even the deepest levels of despair are within the easy reach of God.
Believe me, I have tested this.
The first scripture that I really connected with as a new Christian was Psalm 73:21-26. Over the years it has not always been relevant to what I was going through, but when I look back at the bigger picture I see that God has planted this reality rock solid into my being. He did this by being real, showing up and loving me.
Despite all of my inner beasts.
When my heart was grieved
and my spirit embittered,
I was senseless and ignorant;
I was a brute beast before you.
Yet I am always with you;
you hold me by my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will take me into glory.
Whom have I in heaven but you?
And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever.