Hopefully at one point in your life, you have heard the catchy main tune from the 1952 musical film, “Singin’ In The Rain.” Cue black licorice umbrella, grab your rainboots and canary yellow raincoat and activate your vocals while attempting choreographed half-kicks. Be careful though: the bouncy melody will happily hound you for days and leave a perma-grin in your heart and on your lips long after the rain clouds dissipate! Music has been a part of my life as long as I can remember and has accompanied me in so many of life’s experiences, teaching me several different things.
Music is meant to stay. As constant as there is weather, there are organized tones available to nurture us through all of life’s benevolence. Music is an eloquence of elevated emotion. Our Creator designed it to affect us. Every culture has it. Music lifts us, inspires us, soothes us and raises our soul to heights where words have evaporated. Through music, we can form artful utterances to the Maker who fashioned them. Music is full of benefits that can carry us through life and keep our outlook positive.
Music makes us bold. I was a fairly shy kid who loved going to music class in grade school, but shrunk in my seat terrified every time the teacher looked for someone to sing a solo. Well, a few years later, after fiddling with a keyboard from a great-aunt and starting piano lessons, I mustered up enough courage to play and sing with a friend in a talent show. I realized that I loved music so much that it was worth the risk of venturing into its depths, even if my nerves were a little uncomfortable.
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It was worth the worry, and my friend and I were delighted that we had practiced and participated, instead of sitting on the sidelines.
Music is communal. During high school, I was involved with a great music program that incorporated band and chorus, as well as a community theatre to produce seasonal concerts and summer musicals. All ages and levels of talent were welcome to participate; giving each of us a beautiful collective experience to witness such variety in a shared setting. There is nothing better than moving a crowd, helping to guide and uplift their musical musings and sharing with them the synchronized harmonies that bring art to life. This is also true in Church. I have been involved in different music ministries both in my college church and as an adult in my parish. Many voices lifted in song as a congregation makes us all equal contributors to a synonymous synod of pristine prayer. Sing. Share. Send up our voices as one.
Music is supportive. We can use it to rise above tricky times, or to encourage others to try what they think is not possible. When my sister asked me to sing for her wedding, of course I obliged. It was my first full wedding, and I was delighted that she trusted me to try! There happened to be this one beautiful duet, and I had convinced myself that I could not hit a particular high note. My duet partner thought otherwise. He said to go for it. So sure enough, it might not have been the most on-pitch high A, but my goodness, with his support and belief in me, I believed, I tried and I did something that I told myself for years I could never do!
Music teaches us humility. As Henry van Dyke said; “If only the best birds sang, the forest would be silent.” When I was in college, I asked a few people to help me perform a song for a talent show. The next thing I knew, we had a band. I wasn't sure I was ready for that, but the thrill of embracing this opportunity and just trying was priceless. Did I have a few growing opportunities—or missed notes—yes. Did my saxophone malfunction because of an old reed—yes. But, did we have a blast sharing our gifts—absolutely! Similarly, in high school, I was asked to play piano for a nursing graduation ceremony. When I sat down at the piano to warm-up before playing the graduation march, I realized that the piano had been covered up since the dark-ages and that it was obnoxiously out of tune. This was two minutes before the nurses would process to the stage. I had no choice but to play as though Frankenstein himself gifted his time to graciously bestow a cacophony of out-of-tune melodies before this amazing group of nurses. So, even in the midst of musical events, we can cultivate holy humility.
Music teaches dependence. Just as a garden is reliant on rain, my prayer is that my Director of the Seasons, our Lord and Savior, will lead me, as I solely depend on him, his guidance and his nurturing nudge. I don’t know what my next musical step is, but I will wait for his call. He will reside over my thoughts, actions, plans and talents. It may be as simple as singing a lullaby, sharing a song choice to uplift someone grieving, giving music lessons or praising God in the car, but God calls us to all sorts of jobs and appropriate uses of our musical gifts. We need to be ready to brave the storm or bask in the sunlit, cloudless day, wherever we are careened.
Most of you will not actually wear rain boots, grab the nearest umbrella and tap-dance your heels out, (although you may watch the musical). But rain is nearly unavoidable, and just like music, it will hit us all. It may be a few dewy drops or a soak from a major downpour, but as I have learned, God will shower us with sweet melodic lessons in our lives that are meant to benefit us with a daily dose of nourishment for uplifting and enhancing the most mundane days in monumental ways. I know I will, and I ask you to join me in continuing to walk about the tempers of life, ask for graces and sing in his reign.