St. Augustine once wrote, “He who sings, prays twice.” David, a man after the Lord’s heart (1 Samuel 13:14), sang and danced with all his might before the Lord to the point of making a fool of himself (2 Samuel 6:14-16, 20-22). There is something about music that kindles the human spirit. In prayer, it aligns the heart with the mind and brings us that much closer to God. I have also found that it leaves an indelible mark on a memory, and as time passes and my sadness over the loss of my mother ebbs and flows, a song always seems to bring her back.
The first time I recall it happening was when my son was playing with a music box in my parents’ house. It was a casual Saturday morning, so I was relaxed and off my guard when an instrumental of the song, “Memory” from the musical “Cats” began to play. Instantly, I remembered the long days and many times my father played that song for my mother by her hospital bed. I saw the pain on both their faces in my mind’s eye, and the grief came flooding in.
A few months later, Amber, Tripp, and I went to church with my dad and brother’s family. We had been attending a different church, so it did not occur to me that this would be my first trip back to the church in which my mother’s funeral took place. Sure enough, the choir sang a beautiful rendition of “On Eagles Wings,” which was the processional song at my mother’s funeral. Instantly, I was back to that day. I could see the aisle, my father on the other side of the coffin, the altar before us, and all the emotions surfaced from the mire of my subconscious.
While it may seem that I’d prefer to avoid these instances, that couldn’t be further from the truth. The truth is that I valued each of those moments like found treasure. Yes, pain and sadness accompanied those memories, but grief only exists where there is love. Those songs allowed me a chance to feel closer to my mother again. Nothing could bring me more joy in my sadness than feeling my mother’s love, and music is a language of love.
I can recall the first time I truly felt this idea about music to be true. It had been a concept my mind seemed to grasp, but knowledge of something like this is empty without understanding. Almost a year ago, my mother was confined to bed, so she and my father were unable to attend the annual Christmas party at my father’s law firm. About halfway through the party, I received a text from one of the members of the firm stating they would like to come by my father’s house and sing Christmas carols. I had never understood the point of caroling. It always seemed to be boring for the participants and a nuisance for the neighbors. But, knowing it should lift my parents’ spirit and appreciating the gesture, I encouraged it.
A few hours later, my father and uncle helped my mom into a chair by the front door as thirty or so friends sang her carols in the driveway. I cannot describe my feelings of appreciation when I recall the tears of joy in my mother’s eyes and the smile on her face as she basked in that outpouring of love. Suffice to say; I understand the point of caroling now.
I write all this to say seek music. Music, like love, is an invaluable gift. If you have a talent for it, share it. If you want to grow closer in your relationship with God, sing and listen to music that praises Him. The Word plants the seed in your mind, but it can only grow if watered with the love from your heart. And, if a song happens to bring back memories of a lost loved one, don’t fight the emotions. Let them come and wash over you. When it passes, remember that one day those tears will be wiped away, and as love’s counterpoint, your grief provides a glimpse of the love you will have fully restored on that day.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” (Matthew 5:4)