My head emerged from murky, dark green depths to strains of an undulating voice. A supportive Eastern Indian drone buzzed in minor just below the melody. I did not expect this sound on such a sultry evening. Normally, an errant duck squawks in the distance and the surrounding air is punctuated by the soft flapping of bats blindly gathering their dinner. But not tonight.
Along the lake’s edge, a ruffled group of people were searching for some lost chord in an apparent attempt to connect with Gaia. Tousled, sun-freckled kids were playing amongst the rushes as a sinister layer of weed smoke slunk across the tepid water. It seemed like some sacred welcome mat rolled out to usher this worship into the night air. The alternating legato chants of Shanti ‚ Om‚ and harmony made their way into my sodden ears.
I did not expect this expression at the lake I call home. The strange beauty of the music continues even now as I write, though almost every song has been in the same key. There is a near dullness to this music. The object of this worship is untethered to The Divine Being. Rather it is yearning to connect with elusive divine-ness in us all. The strains of these melodies seem on a futile search. As I’m lulled to consider the divine-ness in me, I find it deeply muddled, jammed back into dark, scarred corners of past traumas. Somehow, through this foreboding, Jesus emerges. I wonder if He is emerging to these well-intentioned worshippers. Perhaps.
It’s eerie hearing this reverie after most of a life listening to Christian hymns, contemporary and worship songs. There is a sense – as I have sung these many songs in appreciation for God – of connection, renewal, remembrance and grace. But not always.
Even with music that has the Creator of the Universe as its object, I am at times distracted by the saccharine, the commercial, and the trite. Somehow, even so, I connect with something that is far beyond my understanding. Even when dumbed down and trivialized, this music sung and played to God contains shreds of beauty that tease the hunger of my soul and brings to light the pains of my past. The music I still hear now floating across the humid night air does not provide nearly the same solace.
Even so, a primal creative urge is being expressed by these people. Even in the dullness I feel in their music, there is the DNA of the Creator, who is the Source of every note, brush stroke, word written, line delivered, aria sung, and mantra uttered. Perhaps these earnest people are misguided in the object of their worship. But I’d like to think that God is above and amidst them smiling as they utter His very impulses. Maybe in this tainted goodness, they will see True Divinity in the midst of the contrived, tarnished idols of themselves. Maybe, just maybe, God has grace enough to imbue the strains of their music in ways He can only redeem. Perhaps these timbres will ultimately remind them of the only One that perfectly, and wildly, loves them.
I can still see the faint fires flickering across the placid lake. The music is dying down in synchrony with the flames. An errant duck duck squawks in the distance and softly flapping bats punctuate the air as they go about their nighttime meal. And God longingly smiles…