Sunday, February 6, 2011

And the Beat Goes On

I will rejoice and be glad because of your mercy; for you have seen my affliction; you know my distress.

Psalm 31:7 Book of Common Prayer

 Yesterday I got some upsetting news. Oh, nothing as dire as anyone sick or moving to another state, just one of those unplanned wrenches tossed in my gears. I don’t take this sort of thing well at all. Life as a single, (more or less) solitary freelance writer isn’t supposed to offer many other people the chance to participate in creative wrench-tossing. So I get out of practice in dealing with the slightest upsets, a fact that must make the Holy Spirit pull out her hair.
            Fortunately, I had already accepted an invitation to hear a percussion trio that evening. It wasn’t my usual venue, but the ticket was free, and I always learn something when I attend such events with a musician friend.
            The stage of the black box theatre where the event was held was positively littered with percussion instruments and with items—newspapers, for instance—not usually considered musical. Seeing the names of several contemporary composers whose music I do not understand raised my level of trepidation.
            I was surprised to pick out a steady beat, murmuring like the heart murmurs, in one of the numbers. Just tapping away, as percussive instruments do, underneath all the fancy stuff on top. Unbidden, the thought came to me: That’s God’s care in your life. You are going to be fine. Don’t worry about this thing.
            I don’t generally expect divine guidance from percussion instruments. To get this reminder of God’s care from drums reinforced my belief that God works through whatever means are available. You know my distress, the psalmist writes. Although I seldom get such a fast response to my desperate pleas of “You have to help me!” last night was a graced exception.
            The program included some music I found dissonant. Because it had no discernible melodic line, I had a hard time listening. I once had a friend who defined music he liked as music he could hum. But life isn’t only like a box of chocolates, Forrest Gump. It’s also like a concert, with various types of music, familiar and not, hummable and not. Yet underneath the melody or the cacophony in our lives, the beat of God’s loving care repeats.

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