Monday, March 23, 2009
Music in My Soul
Music has always been such an important part of my life. When no words could comfort me and all else failed, music could calm my troubled soul. It became my escape, my refuge, my retreat. I suppose that's why I love the Psalms so very much. As a shepherd boy, David also found solace in his music and an escape from the weariness of life.
As a child, the music I remember most was the sound of bluegrass. I can still hear the sound of stringed instruments floating across the mountains of my grandparent's home in beautiful Kentucky. I recall the soulful sound of the violin (fiddle, if you're from the south), the twang of the banjo and the high pitched sound of the mandolin. Add an acoustic (flatop) guitar and Heaven itself had no sweeter music. I would often fall asleep to the beautiful music of the old hymns. What sweet memories!
For me, it was the keyboard that held my interest. I had been singing all my life but at age sixteen, I learned to play the piano. I learned to play by ear and practiced until I could accompany myself. After that, there was no stopping me. I didn't have a piano at home but you would never have known it. I played the piano on the kitchen table, the bathroom sink, the coffee table in the living room--anywhere I could put both hands side by side. Mother used to laugh so hard at me because everything in the house had soon been made into a makeshift keyboard and "played by Marie". She was so supportive of my efforts.
My brother Don played the acoustic guitar. How I loved to hear him play! Many were the times I found him sitting on the back porch with his guitar. Sometimes he would pick out the notes, other times he just strummed the chords. Either way, he was a joy to listen to. A softness would come upon his face as he played and he seemed to be in a faraway place. It was almost magical.
One particular memory stays with me more than all others. Don knocked on my bedroom door one night after supper. I opened the door and there he stood with his old, somewhat battered guitar. "Let's play some music, Sis.". We sat on my bed for over an hour as Don played and I sang. I watched his fingers fly over the strings for the hand clapping tunes and then he seemed to caress the strings for the soft ballads. When he really liked the song he would look at me and grin. Of course, I kept singing just to win his smile. What a sweet memory!
Don died at age 26. My heart had never been so broken. An emptiness filled me--I missed him so. I could hardly stand to look at his guitar. It was only a reminder that I could never hear him strum the notes again. I grieved, oh, how I grieved. Life would never be the same.
One week after Don's death Daddy wanted us all to go to church. He would be ministering his first message following my brother's death and he needed our support.
I did not think I could do this, even for Daddy. How could I sing when my heart was broken? How could I strike a note on the keyboard when the music would only remind me of Don's absence? Music had always been the balm that healed the wounds of my spirit. Not this time. Not tonight.
When Daddy asked me to sing, I thought it impossible. My brother was gone and I did not understand. How could this happen? He was so young, so full of life and love. How could I sing without him there? I bowed my head and asked God to help me to lift my voice and sing as unto the Lord. I then felt a surge of strength--a strength I recognized as the spirit of God. I knew I could do this. I struck the notes on the keyboard and began to sing,
"Farther along, we'll know all about it.
Farther along, we'll understand why.
Cheer up, my brother, live in the sunshine.
We'll understand it all by and by."
Now, I understood. There are things in this life that we will never understand. God owes us no explanation for what He does. He is obligated, however, to keep the promise that He will never leave us or forsake us. I found Him to be true to this promise. He is truly ever present.
Music will always be the constant in my life. It will always be the outlet God has given me when life becomes something I cannot understand. I lose myself in its sound, in its notes, in its words. Music takes me to a place I feel safest--it takes me into the heart of God. There I find joy unspeakable and full of glory!!