Melody and words have been a powerful influence in my life. As a little girl, I started recording my rambling ideas on a color-coded tape player before I could even read. Since then, writing and music have become a part of my daily life as a music therapist, songwriter and girl who can't keep from singing. A well asked question, a haunting melody--these can transform life from the mundane to the beautiful.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Walking Into The Storm

In this musical blog, I found myself being drawn to Gorecki’s Symphony No. 3 (p. 319 in 1,000 Recordings Hear Before You Die) that was given to me by a family member years ago.   This is music for a journey, not an easily accessible pop song that can be devoured in a couple of minutes.   Instead, this music is slow moving, emotional, sorrowful and slightly foreboding.   Perfect Christmas music, right? The first 13 minutes of the album are nothing but slow moving strings, painting the background for what is to come. Then enters a soprano, the voice of a grieving mother at the loss of her son. The second movement of the album contains a prayer found written on the wall of a Gestapo Prison cell in Poland.  The singer increases her lament, asking for guidance from the Blessed Virgin, desperate for some answers. The last movement ends with another prayer to God, as the mother expresses, what I have to believe is her greatest fear in not knowing what has happened to her son:

He lies in his grave
And I know not where
Though I keep asking people

Oh, sing for him
God’s little song-birds
Since his mother cannot find him

Throughout the whole work, it’s as if you are sitting in a movie and you know that the character is walking into something, but you can’t quite tell if it will be good or bad. This album to me is not only about sorrow but also at walking into your greatest fear. I have to believe (although I don’t know from experience) that a fear of every parent is not being able to protect your children and that this album is the journey of a mother facing that very fear.

What are you afraid of? Snakes, heights, the dark, death, the unknown future? It seems that there is always something that can paralyze us and the last thing that we want to do is to walk into that fear. It’s much easier to run away, avoid the fear or just pretend that it isn’t there and hope that it will magically go away.

I recently went on a walk with a friend of mine and she was sharing with me some of the fears that she was facing as a soon-to-be mother. She asked the question of, what if, instead of asking God to take away our fears, we name our fears and ask God to walk with us in the midst of them? How could that transform us?  The unknown, the questions and all the things that we can’t control?

As we enter into the winter season this month, I was reflecting back on a winter that I spent on a trip driving through Minnesota several years ago. It was a crazy snowstorm and I was driving on a two lane road in my little stick shift red Ford Escort. Definitely not the sturdiest car for this kind of weather, let’s just say that. The conditions were so bad, all you could see was white in front of you. I remember looking ahead and seeing a freeway overpass in front of me with two large posts and simply aiming for in between those two posts, hoping that there wasn’t a car coming the other way on the other side of the road that I would crash into.

How many times have my own fears felt like that snowstorm?   How terrifying it can feel to walk (or drive!) into that fear? How somedays all I can do is aim for the middle and ask God to somehow help me navigate so that I don’t crash somewhere in there. As crazy as it feels, how can I ask God to walk with me in that fear, not knowing how it will come out on the other side?  

In this Christmas season, I’ve been thinking about the fears that Mary must have been feeling when she was told that she was to be the mother of Jesus. She certainly didn’t know what she was walking into.  What did the angel first say to her? “Run away, because it’s going to be really hard!” Or maybe “Hopefully God will pick someone else because you seem unsettled by this idea.”   Nope. The angel reminded her not to be afraid and that God would be with her in the midst of her fear.

“The angel went to her and said, ‘Greetings, you who are highly favored!  The Lord is with you.’   Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be.   But the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.”  (Luke 1:28-33)

As you are entering your fears, your own storms, I encourage you to listen to the Symphony No. 3 (click for a link) and allow yourself to sit with your fears.  Let God meet you there. Then sit with the words of Mumford and Sons' "After the Storm" (click for the link) and find hope in the fact that God is there with you in the midst of it all.   

And there will come a time, you'll see, with no more tears.
And love will not break your heart, but dismiss your fears.

Lord, this Christmas season, I am asking you to meet us in the midst of our fears, not knowing how everything will turn out. Give us the faith to believe that you have great good intended for our hearts and lives and enable us to trust that you won’t leave us, even if it doesn’t look like we thought it would.  Remind us of the hope that you have promised us in an unlikely Savior, born to a mother who was learning how to trust you more deeply as well.  Amen.