Tuesday, February 13, 2007


Hell's Canyon Wildflower
Originally uploaded by Martina.
This past Sunday was a beautifully sunny day. Having spent much of it inside, I'm not even sure whether the weather itself was bright. I know that my mood certainly was. From the moment I walked into choir practice to be greeted with a warmth and enthusiasm that would melt even the dourest of hearts, I was enveloped by the sense of being among friends, a sense that it would accompany me throughout the day.

After weeks of not having gone to church in favor of getting my heathen on (there were movies to watch, books to be read, projects to be completed), I was lurked back by the gentle proddings of a music director promising African music. As it turned out, the song on the day of my triumphant return was "Jambo Rafiki" (Swahili for "Welcome, friend").

It is such a joyful, celebratory piece that it's impossible not to be swept away by its welcoming mood. It's like a musical billet-doux to all humanity. The energy it created in rehearsal and, even moreso during church itself was almost palpable. That's the beauty of music. It has the power to create such strong feelings in people - grief, intimacy, serenity, love, or in this case, unmitigated joy.

As such, it made me wonder: Why don't I do this more often? Time and time again, I've found that when I'm engaged with music, I feel happier, more confident, and I smile more. Singing (also playing music...though I don't do that so often anymore) does amazing things for my baseline level of happiness. Singing with people who make me feel so welcome does even more amazing things to it.

That is one of the things that I most love about the church we attend. It is not a large, slick or flashy, but it is so warm and welcoming. No matter how long a person stays away or where she is on her journey, it always feels like home. It's like a family that is always there, patiently waiting.

Even as someone who has very pluralistic views when it comes to spirituality, I feel comfortable there in a way that I know I would not in a lot of churches. Like many people, I've had my share of bad religion in the name Christianity. It's one of the reasons I stayed away from such places for so long, prefering to develop my own spiritual views.

There are days when I truly am not sure exactly what it is that I believe. I suppose that's why I was so fond of the idea of the Christian-Hindu-Muslim Pi when I was reading Yann Martel's book. He didn't have to pick and was able to find God in each of those philosophies. My only regret is that he couldn't have been a Buddhist too.

Still, even if I am not sure what my head thinks about all of these ideas, I do know how music makes my heart feel. One thing of which I have no doubt, is that no matter how we approach God, the divine can indeed be found in music.

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