I may have mentioned this before, but there are two things that I do well. I admit to this relatively freely, and have only pressed the delete key into service about seventeen times in an effort to either perfect that statement or to quell the squishy, icky, self-conscious feeling I get when I get all braggy and out there. Thing is, I've had independent confirmation of these two things-- even by people who don't know me. I mean, it's one thing when a friend compliments you on something. They kind of have to do that, in that friendly-I-love-you-and-I-support-you kind of way that friends have. But when you get that same compliment from a stranger, or someone you don't know well at all-- it has a sticking power that moves the validity of the compliment up a notch or three.
So-- two things. First is writing. I love to write. I love to put words to the bright and shiny (or dark and twisted) pictures in my head. I love the words-- all of them, and have been known to worry at a particular word or phrase for what seems like forever, in an effort to find the exactly right and perfect word. I listen for the cadence that wraps around my words, adding a resonance that rings true to my ear. I listen for the music of the words, listen for the clear bell tone, like a resolution to an unfinished chord.
Music. My first love, and it gets woven into so much that I do. Even in my writing-- I hear its music, hear the songs pour forth, their rhythms and measures building and flowing. Music is the other thing I do well. Singing, to be exact. I do it a lot. If writing fills my head with sound and gives life to the words that chatter and sing and play there, their notes rising and falling in a waterfall symphony that teaches me the lessons of my heart and illuminates the dark and twisted passages playing hide and seek there, music has always been the one thing that gets me out of my head.
When I write, I find me.
When I sing, I find God.
This may be the very reason why, when I was twenty or so, and angry, and lost, and filled with existential angst, and broken beyond repair (as I decided I had to be), that I gave up singing. I remember saying to myself "I will never sing again." And I didn't, for a very long time. I may have sung in the shower, or with the radio in my car. But as for singing, real singing that got me to that place-- that transcendent, holy place where the music flowed in me and through me and went upwards and outwards and carried a note and my soul along with it straight to God-- that didn't happen. I shut that down, locked up tight and silent and walked through my days trapped inside my head.
It was noisy in my head, without the music. Noisy and dissonant and jangly. For two decades, I was trapped in my own silence. even when I got sober, even when I went to look for God, I stayed silent. I was afraid to sing, afraid of my voice, what it would sound like after years and years of disuse (not to mention the years and years of abuse. Afraid that even when I sang again, really sang, I would would no longer be able to find God, and would be trapped in my silence forever.
And then, somewhere in there, somewhere in that silence and that fear, I took my son to Sunday School when he was six. While I was in the synagogue, I heard the sound of an Am being played, and I was freed. Okay, not instantly. But that one chord, that melancholy, joyous, yearning chord, found me, found my silence and unlocked the chains I'd so carefully set in place.
Yearning. It is neither want nor need. There is need and desire in it, but it is more a reaching up, a reaching out, in hope, in joy, in despair and desolation. It is a flame that flickers and moves upward, dancing and guttering, and glowing through it all. It is an Am, sweet and knowing and raw. It is a question, a prayer, a fluid and graceful arc. It is the human heart's cry of "Where are you?" and the breathless hope of God's answer "Hineini-- Here I am."
I found my voice, left the silence behind, when I heard the yearning of that music. It was the voice of my own desire. In it, I found benediction. I found blessing. I found God. And when I opened up again, lifted my voice in song again, I found God again-- and God welcomed me home.