Music is a very important part of my and my family’s life. We all appreciate music which is to say that we all recognize good music, even when it may not be our style or what we normally listen to. Tim plays electric guitar and though his usual genre is heavy metal, he recently started working on some jazz stuff. He was blown away by the complexity and elegance of jazz chords. After playing some of those chords for himself, he came in my room with a stunned look on his face and said, “Jazz is cool”. Music had opened up something brand new inside of him.
My husband and I love to hear LIVE music which is such a different experience from recorded music. It is not just about the sound or even the visual component of entertainment. I think that it is primarily about the energy of the people you are gathered with, your musical community. We can experience musical community in grand concert halls (we have those here in Alaska), gigantic venues (we have one of those, too, people like Elton John play there), and in church sanctuaries. Or it could be in a crowded bar with people pushing up too close and spilling their beer on you. When I have the experience of being with the music and with my community, I am with God in all of those places. And if I pay good attention, the place that I often experience God the most strongly is that crowded bar with the sticky floor, sweaty guys (and girls), and way loud music.
Just last night we went to hear The Hold Steady, a band whose music we didn’t really know. Most of the time we see bands that we already know. In those cases I tend to get swept away in the music because I know the words and my body knows how it wants to move to the familiar rhythms and melodies. This time I was much more aware of the experiences that everyone else was having and I have to tell you, I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face. This band makes people happy. And when they get happy they sing at the top of their lungs and dance crazy and jump up and down. There weren’t any fights or people being mean to each other. There was just a general spirit of goodwill for each other. And in my theology or philosophy or whatever you want to call it, when that kind of spirit shows up, that is where God is.
Were there people there that had too much to drink? Yep. Were there people that I felt a little judgmental about in regard to behavior or attire or lack thereof? Yep. (I can’t help it, I’m a mom. But I do release my judgments and let people make their own choices.) But maybe we spiritual types can get too narrow about what is spiritual and what is not. Meditation and prayer is pretty clearly in the realm of the sacred, but jumping up and down until you're sweat soaked and blissed out, maybe not so much. I’m pretty sure that some of my “spiritual” community would be quite surprised at my abandon on the dance floor. (My children are surprised and appalled.) But, every chance I get, I’m going to get out there, feel the music, and jump up and down. For joy.
Here's a Youtube video of the Hold Steady. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FY3V4ObYRsA