One voice...

How many times has this happened to you: you are driving - or watching TV or a movie - and you hear a song that moves you to tears? It happens to me ALL the time. Cathleen Falsani writes about hearing U2 sing "Walk On" a few nights after the attacks of September 11th:

And if the darkness is to keep us apart
And if the daylight feels like it's a long way off
And if your glass heart should crack
And for a second you turn back
Oh no, be strong
Walk on, walk on

It was precisely what I needed to hear: not from a rock band, not from any other human being. It's what I needed to hear the Creator of the Universe say. That moment of grace in the guise of a song reminds me of something I once heard the author Frederick Buechner say: "Pay attention to the things that bring a tear to your eye or a lump to your throat because they are sings that the holy is drawing near." (Falsani, Sin Boldly, p. 36)

I am so glad to have fallen into Falsani's book. I've liked her blog, The Dude Abides ( and enjoyed her interviews with various people about how they understand God working in their lives, but this book really nails it for me. It is like one of those sacred song/prayers that arrives at just the right time with a little bit of solace, a little bit of light and a whole lotta soul.

In fact, this book makes me think even more about other songs that have made an appearance in my life at just the right moment. One, by the Wailin' Jennys, came to me through one of my sweetest male friends, Brian Stevens, who used to sing many of the male lead vocals in my band back in Tucson. He is a teacher and after being in our church for 3 years - and singing most of the U2 songs with passion and verve - he and his wife took a gig in Colorado. Now, Brian is about the same age as my daughters - early 30s - and as we sang and played together he not only helped keep me young and honest, but he let me be a helpful older guy. And on the day he left the band, he asked us if we could sing "One Voice" with him as a way of saying goodbye.

Man, did that cat get it! Not only did that song rip us apart - so beautiful - but it also spoke in form and verse what our emerging theology of music and grace was all about. And it is clearly one of the best ways of sharing the hope and presence of God in music that I know. (Two years later, my man Brian drove all day and part of the night to come to Tucson for our farewell concert - and he NEVER sounded better on "Beautiful Day" than that night we said adios to our ministry mates on a sweaty hot night in June.)

Take a listen to "One Voice" because... it is perfect.

Falsani goes on to write: I have a favorite T-shirt that reads, "Jesus is my mixtape." When I bought it, I thought its slogan was charmingly quirky, but over time it has acquired this transcendent quality, a motto that sums up my belief that everything - everything - is spiritual. At the cent of that everythingness, as a pastor friend of mine likes to describe it, is a universal rhythm, a song we all play, like a giant, motley orchestra. Sometimes in tune, sometimes off-key. We call it by different names. Still, it remains - if only we have ears to hear it - the eternal soundtrack that plays in the background of our lives. (p. 39)

Neil Douglas-Klotz makes an observation about this in his work with the Aramaic prayers of Jesus - and the Lord's Prayer in particular - when he tells us that every person has a God given, sacred note deep within themselves. And, curiously enough, when we all sing our note as it was given to us by God, it creates an organic chord. I think he's on to something because when I've invited people in worship to sing their note using the first word of the Aramaic Lord's Prayer "abwoon" the sound they make is... beautiful.

Take a listen to this lovely reworking of the prayer and see if you don't sense a deep sense of God's peace, too.


Anonymous said…
I went to a Jesse Manibusan concert on Friday night and sobbed through the entire thing - really quite embarrassing: but good, really good, for the soul!
P.S. Are you familiar with him? An amazing progressive, Catholic praise artist.
RJ said…
I don't know his music but will check him out for sure. Good luck with your weekend trip, too, Barbara. You will be in my prayers.

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