Thursday, April 14, 2011

Only Just Begun

Music and other sounds play behind the 48 hours I spent in St. Louis last week-end. Jets’ chatter, voices clattering and laughter tinkling like sunshine.

And music.

A worker hums along one hallway while another sings softly as they push their brooms and dust rags. Their harmony hastening the timeclock, smoothing the drudgery.

A smiling voice greets me at the end of the journey’s first leg, “I’m here! In the white car. I see you!”

Accommodating a tired traveler, refreshing with genuineness. Whisked to the wedding where pictures were prominently promenading causing guests to stroll down memory lane. Snatches of time full of love and promise, white lace and kisses for luck. A reminder that dancing in the mine fields can end in strength. Faith, it appears, is a major foundational component to win this dance.

The ceremony begins with a tradition continued. Family memories caried on the straings of a song. A reminder that though some have gone before, some yet remain. True, pure voices touch my soul.

I pondered the men standing before me – the groom and groomsmen – I know them all, well.

I watched most of them grow from small to tall, learning to stretch their wings, choosing paths. “I’m going to college. “ “I want to learn this language, to use it to affect the world.” “I plan to let God use my music.”

The great debut moments: Junior Camp Band, First Time Song Leaders, bow ties.

And laughter.

So very, very much laughter. All the tears feel less lonely shared with those whose laughter keeps us all from falling apart.

Well, laughter and prayer. How many hours have these men joined in prayer as a bastion protecting one another, building up walls of faith to support, surround, cover one another?  The unleared mayhap cannot discern it, but I know some of the difficult days these men have seen. I remember the day Saul’s anger turned. The day Absalom’s jealousy overtook his loyalty. Events that cut to the quick and lay bare foundations. Comfort and peace replaced by deep sadness. I saw the wind blow fiercely pushing the chaff away from the stalk.

Yet, together, these men stand, strong.

I am so proud to know them.

As this day continued to tell its story, I learned I was not in St. Louis for only a wedding, as incredible as that was to me. I found myself immersed in conversations, particular, with two of the women of these men. The first wives, the examples. Those allowed into the circle, those who stand behind and with them. As one of the mothers, it is fitting I would share time with the wives on this day when another was added to their ranks. It’s what women do.

The whirlwind stopped as we chatted. We talked first of these men. Sharing experiences, stories, common bonds and then crossed the chasm to ourselves. Our dreams. Our ideas. Our plans. Our hearts opening before the other over a piece of cake and snacks of strawberries and homemade whip cream. Like hummus on chips, we dipped into one another’s lives.

The songs of the workers, the music traditions at the ceremony, and the musical conversation wasn’t all the music of this week-end, however. After all was said and done and everyone was where they should be next, a gathering spontaneously grew in the hotel lobby. Tables and chairs moved and arranged for a haphazard stage.

Have you ever been to a symphony? If you’re early enough, you hear them tuning their instruments. It sounds disjointed, a cacophony of sound confusedly babbling without purpose. Then, suddenly, a tap-tap-tap as the conductor draws their attention and smoothes the rough edges and united music fills the air.

I saw that in the lobby that night.

Youngest cousin first on the violin. Proudly smiling, deeply bowing, sharing his beginning talent with the world. A showman through and through looking for audience approval.

He gave the stage to his older brother, then. Shyly, uncertain his voice and guitar awkward at first until he forgot we were there and began to play for an audience of One. Clean sound from a beautiful soul resonated with innocence. Amazing grace! How sweet the sound. Sensitivity revealing an artist at the beginning of his life’s canvas.

Older cousins took the floor next. Sharing their more polished, perfected talents. Humble confidence mixed with anointing. The artist traded the stage, but his eyes held raptly to the older player’s hands. Watching every chord, every nuance, recording them with his moving fingers.

I looked around me and considered the richness of this family. Generations of music flowed through their veins. Open faces sharing His grace, the wonder of His blessings.

The day came to a close, but the time wasn’t full. Sunday began with praise music in the cab, friendly laughter exchanged through the airport, a friendship sparked and grateful reflections.

When at last I lay my weary self down I can hear the songs still. The score of this 48 hours will long play in my heart.