Notes on a Page

My entire life has been surrounded by music. My mother loved music and played it all the time, in the car, in the house and on a crappy tape player whenever we’d be outside. I’m thankful for that. I love music too and can really appreciate all kinds.

I started singing in church when I was just six or seven (If you’d like to hear the first time I believe Cathy Lorton still has it on tape). My mom made me take piano lessons when I was in elementary school. I took Saxophone Lessons in Jr. High. I was in a very good Choir in High School for four years. I’ve taken a few music theory classes. I’ve played the guitar for at least ten years now and have played and sang in numerous bands with a variety of purposes.

I love music. It’s a part of who I am. With all that I’ve written to this point, you’ll probably be shocked to learn that I can’t read music. I guess I can a little, but not in any practical way.

Tonight I pulled out an old keyboard that a friend gave us a couple of years ago and I’m determined to be good at the piano for once in my life. I printed out some sheet music for a song that I like and began staring at the jumbled lines and dots that make up this so called music.

I can hear music, I can play music, I can feel music so why can’t I read music? It’s honestly very frustrating to me. I’ve had many teachers try and help me by learning little tricks here and there, but they’ve never seemed to stick in my brain.

When I look down at that sheet music I don’t see notes on a page, I see dots and lines that are somehow supposed to mean something. Now if I sit there long enough, I can use the formulas that I’ve learned over the years and slowly start to peck out the song in front of me. After about an hour tonight I got past the first page. But that’s not really reading it, from there I just have to play it from memory. The notes on the page never translate into music for me.

There is a point to this babbling, just keep reading.

I’ve found that those who do get it, who can read the music off the page think less of those of us who can’t. Through out my life they have always stressed to me the importance of being able to get this. They’ve always told me how easy it is and if I just worked harder I’d get it and then everything would be right with the world.

But that’s not true. First of all, I’m not going to get it. My brain isn’t wired to get it. In a way I’m glad about that. I’ve noticed that when many sit down at a piano and play the notes on the page they’re doing nothing more than solving an algebra equation. They’re using the formula they’ve learned to get the right answer. I know people who can read music, but can’t play something from their heart. They can recreate what’s been written on a page but they can never make music. I’m glad that I can make music. I’m glad that I can feel it in my soul.

So here’s the point. I think that sometimes we (me included) religious elitists who think we know all of the biblical backgrounds, historical contexts, and theological formulas simply are solving an algebra equation to see if we can’t get the right answer. Meanwhile there are those who are living out their deeply spiritual lives who could never articulate this life using anything biblical or theological. They don’t know the right language or the right formulas. And we look down on them. We think that they’re missing the point. We think that they’re missing out on something great and grand when in reality they’re living something great and grand, they’re feeling something great and grand, they’re making a spiritual symphony with every breath they breathe and we are missing it all.

God is not there to be studied and analyzed. God is there to walk with, speak to, sing to, and to be heard. When you lock yourself in your study you aren’t feeling Him. He is out in the world. He is in all of the places that you may never have dreamed or even feared to go. The sad thing is that there are others who are already there. They are living lives that they may not call spiritual or religious, but are far more spiritual than some of us have ever dreamed.

Sometimes it’s time to stop quoting the bible. It’s time to stop reading books and listening to sermons and it’s time to live. It’s time to feel God in this world that He has created with the people that He loves. It’s time to stop recreating things that are already written and start making music in the world around us.

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