In last week's post, I wrote about the comforting powers of lyrics and song, and how words can resonate in the soul and engender peace and strength. This week, by coincidence only (I don't plan on making this a theme, I promise), I have decided to tell a story about a piece of music- a different time, a different place, a different genre.
The story begins a year ago, when a young man sent me a recording of him playing piano. The file was entitled, "Notturne." The melody of the song swayed. It climbed and tripped playfully through the scales with ease. It's one of those pieces that gives you starry eyes full of dreams and hope. At the same time, it calls you to reach out and run to whatever it is you're dreaming for. This recording became a constant companion through stressful nights of studying, bleary-eyed evenings of wishing for home, and those times when I couldn't help but feel I was alone.
And then my phone died.
The recording was lost, and the friend had long since banished me from his life. I was busy enough that I forgot about the song for a while, and then I decided I needed to look for it. And look I did. I knew of Chopin's "Nocturne" collection, and I listened and searched for it many times through. For a year, I kept looking around, pricking my ears at any tinkle of a piano in hopes of finding that familiar melody. I even called upon friends who played piano and sang bits of the melody, described the sounds, and asked if they had any idea which Chopin piece it was? Then, one day, at rock bottom, I decided it was time: I would go to the source. I had avoided contacting the young man for quite some time, in fear that old angers would be reawakened, and well- that was just not something I could handle. But I did it: I sent the email, I asked which was the Chopin piece that he had recorded so long ago. The speedy response, without anger or spite read, "I believe the piece you're looking for is Grieg's 'Notturno,' here is a link to a recording." I was reunited with my song at last. In fact, the young lady right next to me knew the piece well, and immediately sat down at the piano and played it for me.
What indeed, does any of this have to do with spiritual discernment? Well, as a candidate for ordained ministry, I must answer several questions. The first boils down to: "Do you believe in God?" This would be simple if I believed in the socially acceptable, neat, compact-able, entity of God. I haven't really hammered out the details on how my ideas of God really all fit together, but I do believe in something- or I want to! For a long time, I struggled trying to believe in a cloud-faced man in the sky. It was something I just couldn't do. But of course- this was supposed to be what I believed in, all my life I prayed to this father-figure God! I had to believe that! Didn't I? So I kept looking for that God. I kept searching for that God; that easy place where religious society smiles and says I did a good job, that place where everything seemed under God's control. Like I said, it was just something I couldn't do. So I started looking elsewhere. I asked Brother Larry, I listened to Doctor Neville (and hoped that some of his genius would leak out and I could sop it up), I delicately nosed around my parents' brain. I, indeed, had to really start asking the hard questions. I had to bite the bullet and just do it. I had to figure out where I was looking for God, because historically, I was on my own.
So that's the take away folks: Sometimes we have an idea in mind of what we're looking for, whether it be a piece of music or a way of thinking about God, but we might be looking for the wrong thing entirely. Sometimes, we need a helping hand (even if it's hard to ask for) to point us in the right direction.
Don't give up the search.