Saturday, March 21, 2015

The Beauty of the Music Box

Friends gather in our home rather spontaneously. The effort to create this only goes a little further than sending a quick text or passing someone in a coffee shop. Next thing we know, people are coming together in our home, an apartment, a porch, a outdoor seating area at a brewery. Someone has a guitar, someone likes to sing, maybe someone has had one too many and is feeling more confident than usual; it doesn't matter why or how or who because a song is coming.

This is a fairly regular occurrence in our house. I know it has a lot to do with the fact that my husband is an incredible musician and tends to attract friends who are equally as talented. But for the rest of us less musically trained folks, we don't hesitate to join in. Impromptu jam-sessions are not about being talented. They are about coming together and creating something as one. They are a connection that we can all share.

My mom keeps a box at our family cabin full of instruments. We are talking about egg shakers, triangles, castanets, washboard, spoons, anything that might make a sound or a rhythm. When family or friends gather around the fire, it doesn't take long before someone wants us to sing together. Everyone can sing a song, shake an egg, ring a bell. There is not judgement here, just song. 

A couple weekends ago, Joel and I attended a surprise party for a dear friend. After dinner, all of his loved ones gathered in a small living room naturally forming a circle around him. Then everyone spoke of their love for him, the ways he has improved their lives or understanding, and expressed deep gratitude for his life. What a wonderful way to say "Happy Birthday"! Once he was fully awash in affirmation, his dad rushed out of the room and returned with a box. I knew what was about to happen...

 There were musicians at the party. There were guitars, a violin, a nice dejembe that a few folks really knew how to play well. The rest of us grabbed shakers, noise makers and all variety of percussion do-da's from his father's music box. For the remainder of the evening we just sang together. Folks requested songs and sometimes we could make them sound good, sometimes we couldn't. There was usually one person who knew all the words and usually one person who could figure out all the chords. But the sound isn't what mattered most. Seasoned musicians passed guitars to newbies, newbies passed their shakers to musicians. In this jam-session, everyone was a music maker. 

The music became communion. It was a breaking of bread that brought us together, on the same level, in the same moment, giving of ourselves and taking in the splendor all at the same time. We were being nourished by the simultaneous give and take. Music connects the mind, heart and soul. Music also connects us to the world around us, the people around us and to God. This birthday party became a holy feast and it filled all of our hearts to overflowing.  

I long for more music box moments in my life. I will keep a box of instruments ready...

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