“Nothing can dim the light which shines from within.” Maya Angelou reminds us. And I say, Amen.
And yet, darkness is still very real. Or maybe, it’s just that some people still don’t trust that the light is there. (Okay, maybe I still don’t trust.) Sometimes, we see only the dark. And on top of that, assume that therefore, we are not enough.
I am so very grateful for the people and places in my life and world where I am reminded that the light still shines.
And I want to be a place where light shines, and spills.
Today, I’m on my way to Macon, GA, to the Townsend School of Music (Mercer University), honored to be a part of the Jubilee Artists Series on Music, Philosophy and the Arts.
Here’s what I’ll tell the students (and faculty), “I’m glad you are bringing music to our world.”
Because here’s the deal: With music, light shines and spills. And it does our heart good. Or in the words of August Rush, “Sometimes the world tries to knock it out of you. But I believe in music.”
“Music,” the trailblazing composer Julia Perry wrote, “has a unifying effect on the peoples of the world, because they all understand and love it… And when they find themselves enjoying and loving the same music, they find themselves loving one another.”
We nod, but let’s pause here and realize that this is beyond a checkmark on an ideology test. Music is a part of our DNA, “woven into the very structure and sensorium of our bodies” (thank you, Maria Popova). As the great neurologist Oliver Sacks reminded us, “music can pierce the heart directly; it needs no mediation.”
I love this from Josephine “Jo” Phelps Fabian, “Through the invisible hands of music, the soul is touched and healed.”
On a June day in 1944, two weeks after D-Day, a few miles from the bloody shores of Omaha Beach, members of the 404th Fighter Group worked to carve an airstrip out of the Normandy countryside. Their efforts cost the lives of 28 Army engineers at the hands of the German snipers who persisted and fought after the D-Day battle. Most were located and captured or killed. One lone sniper still remained in the nighttime distance.
Back at the airstrip, Capt. Jack Tueller took out his trumpet. He’d used it on many a starlit night to entertain the men of the 404th. His commander told him, “Not tonight. I know your trumpet makes the most glorious sound, but with the sniper still out there, you will put us in harm’s way.”
In Tueller’s own words, “I thought to myself, that German sniper is as lonely and scared as I am. How can I stop him from firing? So, I played the German love song, ‘Lili Marleen,’ (made famous in the late ’30s by Marlene Dietrich, the famous German actress). And I wailed that trumpet over those apple orchards of Normandy. And he didn’t fire.”
The next morning, the military police approached Tueller to tell him they had a German prisoner on the beach who kept asking, “Who played that trumpet last night?”
Tueller describes the moment, “I grabbed my trumpet and went down to the beach. There was a 19-year-old German boy, scared and lonesome. He was dressed like a French peasant to cloak his role as a sniper. And, crying, he said, ‘I couldn’t fire because I thought of my fiancé. I thought of my mother and father. My role is finished.'”
“He stuck out his hand, and I shook the hand of the enemy,” Tueller said. “[But] he was no enemy, because music had soothed the savage beast.”
Yes, every one of us is afraid at times. Who knows all the reasons. But when it happens we revert to a zero sum view of the world. We believe that resources–including compassion, mercy, kindness, forgiveness and generosity–are finite. We believe that life is short and you get what you can. And if I don’t know you, you are my enemy… or at the very least, someone to be mistrusted.
I love Tueller’s story because music unlocks mercy… and who knows, maybe even the possibility for healing.
And the walls of hostility came down.
This week, we’ll be talking about the power of music to heal and reconnect us—to be “healers, restorers and lovers of every kind” (thank you David Orr).
I continue to find great solace in the story that took place after the tragic bombing in the town of Omagh, Northern Ireland (in 1998 twenty-nine people died as a result of the attack and approximately 220 people were injured; the attack was described by the BBC as “Northern Ireland’s worst single terrorist atrocity” and by the British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, as an “appalling act of savagery and evil”). After the attack, Daryl Simpson created a choir of Catholic and Protestant teenagers, to use music as a way to begin the healing. (“Love Rescue Me” is a U2 song sung by The Omagh Community Youth Choir.)
Love rescue me
Come forth and speak to me
Raise me up and don’t let me fall
No man is my enemy
My own hands imprison me
Love rescue me
I think about the little things; the profound determination to play a trumpet into the night air–or to light just one candle with song–that really do make all the difference.
What I am learning is this: Perhaps the very people I exclude, are the ones who carry the light–the candle–that will allow me to see. That will allow me to see the Grace of God. And the expansive reach of God’s acceptance. To every single one of us.
A crazy week of weather. On Mt. Washington in New Hampshire, the wind chill hit 108 below zero.
Happy Valentine’s Day to all. A reminder that we get to say thank you for all the places and people who keep love alive in our lives and in our world.
Quote for your week…
I was an unruly child. Music tamed me. Col. Jack Tueller
Note — Tueller went on to fight in the Korean and Vietnam wars, and served in the Pentagon during the Cuban Missile Crisis and Cold War. He retired in 1966 as a colonel, having earned the Distinguished Flying Cross, almost two dozen air medals and two Legions of Merit, the nation’s highest peacetime award. He died in 2016 at the age of 95.
Today’s Photo Credit: “Terry, thanks for your words on embracing our brokenness! A dear friend has stage four cancer and we are learning… Bitter cold here in PA and ‘When the north winds blow, cardinals in the snow,’ I find consolation they, we, have each other. Normal, real, human, Yes.” Bob Keener… Thank you Bob… Keep sending your photos… send to terryhershey.com
Yes, your gift makes a difference… Donation = Love…
Help make Sabbath Moment possible. I write SM because I want to live with a soft heart; to create a place for sanctuary, empathy, inclusion, compassion and kindness… a space where we are refueled to make a difference. SM remains free.
(NEW address by check: PO Box 65336, Port Ludlow, WA 98365
Letters that do my heart good…
–Thanks for using the ice photo. It has been a challenging few days to care for the animals and now repairing the damage from broken limbs. We have burned lots of firewood. The quiet in the cold has been a blessing. Kent and Joan
–Try 30+ below zero. Our granddaughter is in Wood Buffalo, Alberta, playing in the Arctic Winter Games. Seven countries bordering the Arctic Circle compete. Having a grand time in spite of the Arctic temperatures! Maybe because of the thrill of the chill. Has one medal so far. You might want to check it out. Patti
–Terry – thank you for your very pertinent SM today. Two weeks ago my confessor /spiritual director & friend of almost 50 years died in his sleep. The whole diocese is in sorrow he was 69. The vigil, Mass, burial & reception are in the biggest spaces we have in the diocese. And I haven’t wanted to read SM because I couldn’t or wouldn’t shake the pain of my loss. Today I found out that’s okay. Yes, I’m still sad (and feeling sorry for myself – what do I do now?) but today I’ve made room for being thankful for my warm bed, and the people who’ve reached out to me, and so thankful that God gifted me with this man to help me look at change and pain as “friends” that helped me look at problems in new ways so I could deal and move on. And I’m thankful for you – your struggles and strength, your humor at the absurd and incongruous! I’m listening, hearing and seeing! Hugs – Thank You! Leslie
POEMS AND PRAYERS
“Sometimes the world tries to knock it out of you. But I believe in music the way that some people believe in fairy tales. I like to imagine that what I hear came from my mother and father. Maybe the notes I hear, are the same ones they heard, the night they met. Maybe that’s how they found each other. Maybe that’s how they’ll find me.”
(From the Movie August Rush)
Let us pray.
God of all creation, we thank you today for your gift of musicians.
We know that every good and perfect gift comes from you.
We thank you for the custodians of the music of the divine service.
We thank you string instruments, wind instruments, percussion and singers.
This Holy week, Lord God we ask that you bless all who guide through the ministry of music worship.
May musicians facilitate music that brings you glory.
Music that transcends barriers that divide race, class, gender, denominationalism, ethnicity or geography.
May their gifts create the atmosphere that lifts you up, for you said “If you be lifted up from the earth you will draw all people unto you” today we celebrate musicians for the healers that they are.
Providing light and renewal to their soul.
Bless musicians as only you can.
In your name we pray.
Rev. Babette Chatman
My Prayer For You
When you’re lonely I pray for you to feel love.
When you’re down I pray for you to feel joy.
When you’re troubled I pray for you to feel peace.
When things are complicated I pray for you to see simple beauty in all things.
When things are chaotic I pray for you to find inner silence.
When things look empty I pray for you to know hope.