Has a song ever changed your life? There are so many. For a moment, try to number them. How many have you heard in your lifetime? How many tunes have you hummed? You may find yourself in the same predicament as Abraham, given the task of numbering the stars. Yet you have your own playlist, most likely comprised of a handful of songs that always seem to prevail over the others. These are the melodies that brought you peace and comfort, rejuvenation and inspiration. But ever so often, a song comes along that changes everything.
I think music is so very powerful because it takes us to places in our mind we are not ready to find in life. We are temporarily transported to another realm. There, true love has conquered. Fears are overcome. Death is romanticized. Pain is removed. New life is found. Other times it represents places in our past we could otherwise never visit again. Long lost friends are found there. Time and space must retreat momentarily. We become their masters.
We can gaze out over the vast and epic sea, oblivious to the worlds unknown that lie beyond. We can sit on the shore, headphones in our ears. We lie and tell ourselves nothing is out there. We see only water both to the east and to the west. Everything is known. The same songs, the same ocean of life. Any musician can tell you, music is another language. It is another world entirely. It is not something that can be simply learned, but discovered gradually. While there are a finite number of songs, there are infinite ways to experience them.
So it goes with God.
Do I mean to reduce God to a song? By no means. I do not even mean to suggest I can know God exists. Yet, imagine that we both sit side by side, feet in the sand. One of us has headphones in, the other simply listens to the roar of the waves crashing against the shoreline. One of us sings a song the other cannot hear.
“There is no song. All I hear is your voice in the midst of the waves,” one says.
“There is only the song,” replies the other. “All I see is a silent sea.”
Who is right? We can never hear all that can be heard. We can never know all there is to know. We can never see all there is to see.
If we proclaim to know with certainty there are no gods watching over us, this does not give us reign over reason, mastery over the elements, status above the faithful. We do, however, look at the vast ocean of life quite differently, with different songs in our head than others.
If we have divine visitation, a revelation that worlds do in fact lie beyond the deep blue horizon, we may look suspiciously at our brother who gawks at such mariner tales. How can they not see what we see? We can feel it in the air.
Each new song should remind us that we are but travelers in a foreign land, that there is more beauty to be found than previously thought. When someone tells you about God, they are singing a song only they can hear. Their song is not God, but the song still plays. Who are we to say their song was never meant to be written? It just may be the tune that saves them.
Or saves you.
But how can a song save us? It just may vanquish the deafening silence of despair, depression, and darkness. It just may remind us that there is always more to life than what we’ve made it out to be. It just may remind us that life is to be experienced, to be discovered, to be sung.
And none of us are wearing matching headphones.