I go twice a week. It’s the least I can handle without having a breakdown.
You would think that each time is the same. After all, I’m the same person operating in the same space. But today isn’t the same at all. Normally, I say without hesitation, I use them. I use them for my constant feel of music. It’s an opportunity to stand behind a mic and let all that is bothering me out in melody. Yes, I use them. They call it choir rehearsal, I call it therapy. I go and teach them songs. I sing my troubles away. It is one of the few places where I can be physical in my musical expression. I don’t perform as much as I used to (and by “as much as I used to” I mean I don’t perform at all any more). I used to be physical in my stage performances as well. But now, I use them. I don’t restrict what happens naturally inside and out. I leave it all in the music.
But tonight… they used me. When I came into the church, the pulpit was adorned with a black wreath. The lights were off in the sanctuary. A heavy spirit hovered in the air. I didn’t turn on the lights. I sat my things down in the unusually cold room. One by one I was joined by musicians and praise team members. None of the normally excited voices filled the air. There were only quiet “Hellos”.
With the lights still low, the praise team joined me on the microphones as we practiced. The full harmonies forced a powerful shift in the tense atmosphere. Like clockwork, the sanctuary door nearest the choir stand opened as choir members who had attended bible study made their way to their seats. Normally, this is a noisy process. There is ordinarily laughter heard from the stairwell behind the door. Usually there is silliness. But not today.
I asked for a summary of bible study, like I always do. No one was quick to respond. It wasn’t the same. But eventually someone spoke up and gave their notes about bible study. We all listened in eerie silence. And when they were done, we bowed our heads. It was in that moment that I decided I would not use them. Tonight, I would let them use me. Tonight I wouldn’t require too much of them. Tonight, I would let them take my place in my weekly therapy session. Tonight, if need be, I would drag them into the place where I constantly find peace. I would guide them to a place where nothing matters but the blissfulness of worship.
It began. The percussion counted off, the keys joined, and I began to move. I encouraged them to get into it. They needed a physical release from the emotional weight on them. So we sang. We jumped. We clapped. We danced. Yes, between songs I fixed a few things because it’s my job. But while the song played, I let them go. I increased my energy level. I had to create what they didn’t possess.
They used me. While the music played, they smiled. While the music played, they lifted their hands in surrender to God. They were losing the weight of sadness. Each song made them lighter. Each clap sounded a warning to hurt and pain that joy and happiness were taking control.
When the music stopped, the sadness pried its way back into the room. You see, a few days later, there would be a funeral. In this same room where we found release from pain, we would recover it in an immeasurable way. Here on these same pews where we smiledtonight, we would cry. But because of therapy, they weren’t entirely focused on what would happen tomorrow. They had been derailed from the brokenheartedness. I usually ask for a volunteer for our closing prayer, but not tonight. Tonight, I was being used.
Music is commonly referred to as the “universal language”. And I truly believe we don’t consider using music enough for what we already know it offers us. When we are sad, there is a song we can play on repeat that will help pull out the tears that cleanse our souls. When we are happy, there is a song that embodies the tempo of our joy. When we are confused, there are lyrics that speak to our confusion and help us rearrange our thoughts. Music is indeed a language. Music is the language of our feelings. Music is childhood revisited. Music is memory triggered. Music is praise lifted. Music is sadness comforted. Music is anger fueled. Music is calm created. Music is therapy.