The music that touches me most deeply is also a holy mess. It’s touched by God, it’s true, and it reminds me that in the midst of the wreckage and the carnage there are human beings who are infinitely loved. And, when I let it, it can shake me from my self-imprisonment and release me from the captivity of the Kingdom of Me. It reminds me that I have a choice, and that I am not powerless in these matters.
I can obsess about the hard knocks of life, and I can put on my melancholy, depressive lenses and see the world in shades of dismal grey. Or I can recognize the strange, incongruous blessings that flow from the mess and the brokenness. I see it all the time in my church, and in my own life. And I hear them all the time in music. Jacob Golden gets a divorce and writes a beautiful, honest, poetic masterpiece. The jazz pianist Bill Evans spends all his money on heroin, his wife dies of an overdose, the power company shuts off his electricity because he can’t pay his bill, and he goes into the studio and in one take lays down an impossibly moving hymn called “Peace Piece,” a little slice of transcendent beauty and longing. How can that be? But it is. It happens all the time. It all fits together, and I get to write about it. And I’m so thankful to be able to do it.
It’s a long read, but well worth your time. (And I say that not just because I’m an unabashed Whitman fanboy.)