Reprinted with permission from Joyce Rupp
Reflection – December 2019
Every month I drive to my community’s motherhouse in Omaha, Nebraska. Because the 260 mile round trip provides the gift of time for reflection, all sorts of inner stirrings rise up. This past October as I listened to Peter Mayer’s Singing a Song, a surge of energy and enthusiasm swept through me. Soon I was singing along with this refrain:
May the music of life overtake us, til’ angels mistake us for a heavenly
throng, and may that joyful sound be our shelter, and find us together,
singing a song.
The more I sang, the more the melody opened my mind and heart. That is what music can do for us. In the words of Erin Guinup who conducts the Tacoma, Washington refugee choir: “Something magical happens when we sing. It’s hard not to love people when you sing together.”
Music reaches a deeper place in us, the realm where we humans are more alike than different. “Raising our voices in song” brings us together. The melody and the meaning glide through and beyond our diverse personalities, faith beliefs and political differences. Singing with others allows a strong, unseen movement of common humanity to unite us. I fondly recall the moment when over three hundred participants in Truro, Nova Scotia stood in a crowded hotel ballroom to thank me by singing their national anthem. Even now, this remembrance of long ago creates a ripple of tender emotion. I recall, too, the smile that stayed on my face long after Christmas carolers of all ages had stood by the front door of my apartment and sang with all their heart.
Think of what happens at a concert of a favorite singer or group. People stand up, arms waving, hands clapping, bodies swaying to the beat as they sing along. Such high enthusiasm and joy resound. While usually more subdued, this gusto births at a church service when the music is such that worshippers leave with an opened space inside themselves, allowing peace and joy to go with them on their way.
Sadness can overtake and consume us if we focus only on the hatred and hardships of our global world. There is much to rejoice over when we pay attention to the kind-hearted gestures and deeds surrounding us. Choose a song this Advent to lift you up when life weighs you down, one that eases the franticness of too much to do and restores your confidence when it wains, a song to hold you in remembered love when feeling bereft of it, a refrain that assures you of better days to come.
The gift of song can reassure us that the Maker of Music is right there, ready to create a symphony of love out of what currently shapes our days. Kindness and caring flow in our midst when we listen for their tune. Let us be bearers of joy this Advent season, an anthem of kindheartedness as we notice how the melody of love plays in surprising ways. The song in our heart will carry us through Advent until we reach Christmas day, the celebration of our Original Love Song who came to dwell among us.