The Restoring Power of Wonder

I don’t know about you, but the last week or so has been filled with some heaviness for me. Friends dealing with deep struggles. The things of life that make you deeply aware that we are walking in the midst of brokenness, and that can make us very weary.

I have spoken often on the pages of this blog of the need to seek out and nurture wonder in our lives. Sometimes when our brokenness is most raw, wonder is most vivid. Seeking out wonder is not just a polyanna attitude…it is not just trying to ignore the bad and focus on the good. It is what brings us life when we are most in need.

When I was in college there was a season I was overwhelmed. We were seeing some truly bizarre things happening spiritually, we were young and emotional and raw and we felt like no one was listening to us. My pastor came up to our campus and walked with me and listened. He read through pages of students who were contemplating suicide…kids who felt completely lost who were writing in the public journal in the prayer chapel. Finally he sat down with me and told me that his best advice was for us to stop fixating on all the issues and to begin to worship.

It sounded rather strange in the moment, I’ll be honest, but it was the best advice I’ve had. He was not asking me to ignore the issues, but he was teaching me to refocus. When we fixate on our brokenness and our problems, and the failures and the issues….oh my.

We can become downcast.

We can become overwhelmed, and as a parent especially, that can be a difficult place to be.

When we turn our attention instead to God, when we turn to wonder and to worship…something else happens. When we realize who our God is, when we turn our attention from our struggle instead to Who cares for us, to the God to Whom we belong…that changes things.

Even on the simplest level

Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.  Ps 42:11

Sometimes wonder is difficult to find, I know. But I have to tell you…I am so thankful for the musicians around us who are not only gifted in their craft, but who are filled with joy in their craft. They lift us.

The infuse us with wonder.

Sometimes something online goes viral…a music video or a clip of an impromptu performance…and people not only want to watch it, but they want to share it. We want others to see it and be inspired as well.  And I love that. I have written before about the powerful influence of music in our lives, but for today I just wanted to focus on how it can stir wonder.

There are a hundred videos I could post, but this flash mob is one of my absolute favorites…and yes, it was orchestrated (!) by a bank in Spain. I don’t care…the musicians are obviously absolutely loving what they are doing and the crowd is delighted…

Another favorite of ours are The Piano Guys.  Go and check out their website. Take the time to look at their videos, and turn up your speakers. Grab your kids and watch the videos. These guys not only are fantastic musicians, but they bring in music the kids know and they make it fun and engaging…and then they bring in classical music. Still that is not what makes me watch them the most. What gets me the most and makes me come to them when I am overcome with brokenness is the absolute joy they have in the music.

It lifts my soul.

Watch this:

I’m thankful this morning…thankful for the glorious sunshine and a quiet stillness. Thankful for the change of the seasons and for the delight the kids have in seeing the leaves change and the feeling the coolness in the air. I’m thankful for the wonder around me. I am thankful for a God who created us with imagination and with color and with music and with wonder, so that on days when the brokenness is raw and clear the wonder reminds us that there is more. The wonder reminds us that we were made for something more…and that He will restore.

How amazing will that be? If these things are just a taste? Whew…that’s a whole different post.

Music that moves my soul…

The other day I wrote about the care taking of our souls. Part of that is simply paying attention, part is making room in our routines for silence and for meditation…for listening. There is another part, as well, though, and for me this has always been an important element.

Music.

I wish I could say that I was a great songwriter or that I played an instrument well, but I do not. I have, however, always been moved by music, and now as I am well into my 40’s I find that to be all the more true.

There are songs that can move me to tears within just a few chords, and songs that can make me want to dance. Songs that bring joy and songs that bring a release to the emotions that sometimes I keep at bay.  There is something rather remarkable about music, and there is something about those who create.

I firmly believe that we are created by a Creator who among other things is marked by an amazing imagination. Imagination that created all that we see…the colors and the plants and the animals and the birds and the fish and the….countless things. Imagination that created belly laughs in babies and tears that release not only cleansing liquid but cleansing emotions.
We have a Creator. And we are marked by His image. Part of that mark is imagination and creativity and…music.

Music that moves our emotions and gives us all a vehicle for worship. Music that can make a two year old light up and dance, and music that can bring us to our knees in wonder with a burning desire to express that wonder to something beyond us…to the One who created it all.

There is so much I could say on this, but for now it was simply this. In the midst of the season of Lent when things are more stark and when we contemplate the sacrifice made by Jesus…when we face with Him toward Jerusalem and we recognize how broken our world is and how sinful and broken we ourselves are…we look forward to that moment on Easter Sunday when we cry out and rejoice that He Is Risen! Part of that rejoicing will be enabled by music.

Part of my caretaking of my soul is enabled by music.  And so I am very thankful for those who are diligent in their gifting to bring us chords and words and melodies that move our souls. That’s what I wanted to say the other day, but it would have been a bit too long!!

Just for kicks, here are a few artists moving me at the moment…

Andrew Peterson, because, well, he combines story telling with music in a way that captures even my kiddos imaginations. There is the range of playfulness in his songs, to the understanding of what it is to feel the Silence of God. His Behold the Lamb of God tour is a staple for bringing us into focus for the Advent season.

Charlie Peacock. Another story-teller, and one who gets me moving. Somehow Charlie’s music is always connected to events in my life and when I hear a song from him I can place where I heard it first and what was happening in my life. There is great joy in much of Charlie’s music, but it is paired with understanding of the struggles of life. Check out his new music, like Let The Dog Back in the House

Over the Rhine, because, well how can you not be moved by Karin’s vocals?!

Sam Moran. Okay, this one takes a little more explanation. Most of you who have kids probably know who Sam is…he is, or, er, was, the Yellow Wiggle. Yep. The Wiggles. We watched them some with the boys, mostly with our Sammy which was about when Sam Moran took over that position (long story…google it on your own). Well, Miss Maddie has been completely taken by the Wiggles. She lights up with joy at certain songs, and yes I firmly believe the music moves her. Sam put out a solo album a few years back and I thought I’d listen to it just for fun because I enjoy his voice. The album has become one of those that are marked in your playlist because of the timing of their discovery…this album has brought not only a bit of laughter in the light hearted songs, but also a soothing backdrop in some of the moments of thinking about Mom’s decline. I don’t know if he’ll ever put anything grown up out again, but I’m thankful for this project…and Maddie is thankful he sings kids songs.

Classical music is always part of the mixture for me and I am slowly introducing the boys to various composers as we work through our home school day.