Good music liberates.
You feel small, but the music makes you feel big.
You feel all crumpled up, but the music un-crushes you,
it smoothes out all the wrinkles,
it makes you feel fresh and presentable again….

In this reflection I offer a brief personal story
about how music does this for me.
Originally I toyed with the idea of just playing you a song on the guitar,
since the guitar is something I go to
when my heart is tired of being cooped up
and wants to get out there, wants sunlight…

But while playing guitar and the music is doing its liberation thing
and my heart is happy and smiling
and I’m really getting into it
sometimes my fingers forget what they are supposed to be doing.
As in, “Huh, that’s not the right chord…”
I just get carried away….
Which is ok in a much smaller venue than this one….

So rather than play you a song, I’m going to show you
another one of my favorite ways in which music liberates me.
How it takes this body
(which can spend so much time
sitting behind a steering wheel,
sitting at various desks and tables,
standing and doing basically nothing while my mouth gabs away,
walking but it is pure vanilla walking)
and move it towards something completely different….

That was me back in 2012, at the Adult National Figure Skating Championships in Chicago.
It was an interpretive program
to Rufus Wainwright’s version of the Leonard Cohen classic, “Hallelujah,”
which refers to King David in the Bible,
who would dance before God,
he would dance and rejoice,
and there is one story told where someone sees him
and despises him
because the music moved him so…

But David would dance and keep on dancing—
the music moved him to express the hallelujah feeling in his heart
which is a feeling of praise to that which is larger than oneself.
That’s what the word “hallelujah” means….
It’s why we can see music as a First Source of spirituality,
among all the Six we talk about as Unitarian Universalists.
It’s a way in which we can directly encounter God.

And I know in the video I might be looking a bit fatigued
and maybe a tad scared—
you would be too,
skating in front of judges
and it’s just you out there
and you’re in your later 40s
and falling really hurts
and you know
that there’s no box of Wheaties featuring your smiling face
at the end of all this,
you are not Olympics bound,
you are just an adult skater
and the best you can ever do
is just keep on showing up to skating
and keep on doing the best you can do in your fast-aging body….
So yes, I’m tired and it’s scary,
but despite that,
in my heart of hearts is the hallelujah feeling
and it is huge,
it is a positively spiritual feeling that’s flowing,
and the music—the MUSIC—is moving me
beyond merely sitting behind a steering wheel
and beyond sitting at various desks and tables
and beyond standing and doing basically nothing while my mouth gabs away
to something completely different…
It carries me into jumps,
it sends me spinning,
it puts fire in my feet as I do the footwork sequences
and I love it totally,
I feel like I’m truly myself,
I feel free.

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