So when the guy in the plaid shirt got up there with his guitar to croon about love?
Right off, he broke a string.
String just snapped like a mother of boys can — or so I’m told.
(I actually have no first-hand knowledge of such things as mothers who snap at their boys …. sort of.)
And the smart-aleck kid beside me grins like he swallowed the proverbial canary without so much as a squawk:“Don’t you think maybe the guitar guy’s trying to tell us that he’s looking for love with no strings attached –” Goofy teen grin. “Get it?”
Oh yeah, sweet boy, all you boys keep serving up the crazy and I get it, you can bet on it, do I keep getting it. You betcha, non-stop riot happening here, 24/7.
So then the guy in the plaid shirt traded up guitars, (yeah, but no trading in of boy-comics — because they’re free! I get all this crazy hilarity completely for free!) and we all got to the hymns and there were voices rising and even some raising of hands, because honest, who could help it, when you get to those two lines:
Were the whole realm of nature mine, even this, the raised hands, the bowed head, the murmuring of thanks — it would be an offering far too small.
I had thought that then, all the guitars hitting their notes —
I had thought that standing there worshiping with guitars and teasing boys and all the stretched and taut strings:A guitar is really only empty space — and yet it sings.
Oh yeah, I get that. I get days of feeling empty.
I get days of feeling empty from ALL OF THE HE STOLE THE BOOK I WAS NOT DONE WITH READING YET AND THAT’S MY HEADSET AND GIVE ME BACK THAT PENCIL and all the WHY DOESN’T HE HAVE TO and IT’S NOT FAIR THAT I HAVE TO AND SHE JUST GETS TO and …and… and… — and boy, oh, boy, child, thank your Jesus in heaven that we all don’t get fair and just give the pencil back to your sister and if you don’t high tail it done on this math lesson we are going to be here when Jesus in heaven comes back…
And there are days that you can feel so empty that you feel heavy and full with the emptiness.
And the guy with the guitar, he’s playing and you can see it: Each note touches the others, and vulnerable strings tremble and resonate in emptiness. Its whole empty body resonates in sympathetic sounds. The guitar is all metaphor: There’s this beauty in fragility, there’s this way to carry emptiness, there’s these songs to be made in the emptiness.
And it sort of startled me, standing there watching hands raised during the hymn, listening to the guitars all singing: In the willing hands of the believing, the emptiness can sing. He means to fill our emptiness with song.
Some kid elbowed a kid in the back seat on the way home. I’m not going to lie to you — there were tears and hollering and it was not the sound of music and we’re definitely not the Von Trapp family round here.
And by the time the whole teeming ruckus of us heads to bed, I’m ranting something off handedly. And the Farmer says — nothing.
The man doesn’t have to say anything. I turn and you can see it in his eyes and it’s so loud. Hollowness can have a language of its own.
Behind a closed bedroom door, he turns his back and I shake my head. Fling my hands about ridiculously confused. Okay, so it gets about as ugly as the back seat of the van did on the way home.
So yeah, I want to raise my voice and howl a bit and I have absolutely no idea where the boys get all their ridiculous drama from. I get the irony of this — and irony, it can hurt like swung steel.
What I don’t get? Is how he’s not getting me. And I’m not getting him –— and how in the world did we get here so fast?
Yeah, maybe, just a bit, I get that: The greatest distance in the world can be the empty space that can wedge between two people who’ve promised to be one.
Forget guitars —
Bedrooms can be dark and hollow chambers.
Someone had told me that once — told me that about strings and empty space.
About how to make music. They said that:
Music is made in stress. A string has to be stressed, it has to be pulled tight, to make music.The string has to be moved from it’s comfortable, resting position if it’s ever going to be make music.
The bending of the string, this induces stress. And as the string bends, as the string arches in stress, and then releases, it vibrates — and there is the practiced offering.
This one clear note, high and long.When you’re like a guitar — empty and stretched taut and strings stressed tight — you’re the perfect space to be made a song.
In stress, there can be song.
The days we feel stressed, the days we feel empty — these are our Guitar Days. These are the days that could make music.
The resonance of sound is always in the surrender.
After the lights are flicked out, I lay there in the dark, in the empty dark. In this tight silence between us.
This is ridiculous — Music could be made here.
I whisper to him that I’m sorry, ridiculously sorry and I have no idea where all that came from but I want to understand. I want to resonate with understanding him.
And he speaks quiet into the dark, into me, into the space of me. And I listen, make the chambers of my heart into a willing space to listen and I try to echo back his heart, to show that I have heard him, that I understand, that I’ve listened to the notes in him.
And I turn to him, bend, move out of my comfortable position, out of the rest of self-protection — and I reach for his hand.
And this bending, it’s a stretch, a stress — but where else can the songs be found?
In the dark emptiness, I find his hand.
And he squeezes mine.
The resonance is always in the surrender.
The spaces right full of emptiness, these, like guitars, these can be song makers. There’s no need to fear days that feel empty or stressed — these are Guitar Days. They hold the possibility for music — sacred sounds.
Maybe that’s how to make a messy life into worship: When you let God hold you tight in the midst of stress, you empty of fears and surrender to the music of God.
God means to make songs out of stress.
God means to make songs out of emptiness.
In the dark, I shift a bit closer to him, retuned. Returned.
This is our conscious covenant coupling.
And he nudges me and I grin in the dark and nudge him back — and he laughs and pulls me into something like a prelude of our own.
And it’s there in the shadows, you can hear it like a refrain — this sonorous offering of grace —
two surrendered strings attached to the chambers of the heart and the music of God.