A colleague and good friend wrote me the other day to ask about a song I was teaching the congregation. The words were “Are you feeling. Are you feeling, Pain and stress, Pain and stress, Music is a healing, Music is a healing, Amen, Amen.” He didn’t think it sounded like me, something I would do. I assume this impression of his of me was formed because I am not known for being overly “warm and fuzzy”, that my style of pastoral care tends to be more acts of kindness, caring and connections than sentiment and emotion. He has a point but I as I pointed out to him “music is a healing”, in my life, and more importantly, in the lives of most everyone I know. I sat with a person yesterday who was going through great stress, emotional turmoil and pain, and out of the blue she began to sing. She looked at me and said, “Music is a healing” and smiled. She had learned the song and knew its truth.
Not long ago I endured a car accident. Anyone who knows me well understands THE most traumatic events in my life are car incidents. It’s been hard to “get back to normal”, to breathe, and to be like nothing happened. The sources of healing for me have been nature, landscape, walking (per usual), being with my wife and daughter, going to bed early, helping others, and trying to be attentive in each and every encounter. The latter is so challenging as in anxiety my temptation is to skip ahead and move on, to bypass anything that stands in the way of “getting through this”. And yet by being present in a calm, measured, relational and caring way I receive a healing that super-speed, anxiety fueled, manic behavior cannot replicate.
As I guessed compliments, affirmation, assurances, these are not healing. I live with a fear that my own incompetence with the things that everyone takes for granted; driving being one, will eventually undermine everything in my life. That’s where faith comes in, I need to breathe in the Spirit, the Spirit that connects me to what is truly important, the Spirit that reminds me that such incidents can be wake up calls to be present, attentive, and not to rush through everything. When things are good for me I tend to move and think faster and faster and miss the moment. Interruptions, especially unpleasant ones, bring me back to what is important and the need to be open hearted and open minded to the incident that is unfolding in front of me.
It’s not so much that I need to slow down, I think that critique is often leveled by those who feel defensive that they don’t go at the same speed, are irritated by my energy, but it is important to take time to smell, hear, feel, connect. That is why music and nature are a healing, they come to us in moments that require savoring and embracing. I work hard, move fast, process quickly, but I sometimes miss those in between moments that connect all the good works and good experiences that come my way.
So “Music is a healing”, Nature is a healing” for me. Silence, stopping, relaxing, none of these really heal or work for me. I know they heal others but we need to be true to ourselves and the way God made us. Just stopping offers my own soul nothing restorative but stopping and seeing, stopping and listening, stopping and engaging, these do heal, these do offer hope and new life.