Worth the Wait! An Introduction to Life Rhythms

I preordered the special deluxe CD/DVD album and got it in the mail the day it officially released – Today! After a long day running errands with Kim we popped the DVD in and listened as the artist, musicians and singers talked about the creative process and the recording sessions. The music sounded familiar and yet the songs are brand new from a legendary artist I’ve been listening to for most of my life. Seeing him “live in concert” is still one of my personal highlights and one I would repeat without hesitation. His last recording of original songs was released about 13 years ago and if it had been a vinyl record I would have worn out the grooves. To say he’s one of my favorites singer/songwriters would be a gross understatement and so let’s just say I ‘m sitting in my blue recliner – smiling – listening to every nuance of the guitar riffs, gorgeous background vocals and even a stunning cello underpinning in the beautiful, moving ballad.

I love music, always have… Love to hear it, play it, and on rare occasions attempt to write it. So I was intrigued by the discussion of the creative process this artist uses in crafting a song complete with chord progression, melody and lyrics. Writing one song is a tremendous achievement when you consider that no matter what key you are writing in, you really only have six basic chords to work with; three major and three minor and one diminished chord that is rarely used and then only in passing. Creating an original melody line on top of reused chord progressions, all the while searching for just the right words that create something new and compelling, some new way to turn a phrase that captures our hearts and draws us into the story is beyond fascinating.

Writing one song is simply amazing, writing an entire album with ten or more distinct songs that express the artist’s varying views and emotions is an extraordinary feat. At a time when every new hit on the radio sounds just like last years hits, I have grown to appreciate the artist that takes such care with his craft and his creative voice. And that’s what makes this night so bittersweet for me, because this may be the last time we get to hear a new “tune” created by this master songsmith. For now I just sit back and enjoy the kaleidoscope of thoughts that run through my mind sparked by the steady groove and a simple line in a song sung by that signature voice.

It’s moments like these that draw my attention to the One who is the Master Craftsman. Even now I sense His presence and joy in the simple reflection of His divine image long ago stamped on the DNA of this man’s soul, whether he recognizes it or not. We create because He is the Creator. We build and fashion with our hearts and hands because we were made to reflect His glory in a way that draws us back to Him.

I am suddenly arrested by these words – “We are His workmanship.”[1] We are the songs of His heart, and our lives a collection of His greatest hits, an album of moments in a lifetime of becoming all He has intended from the beginning. And no matter how unfinished I may feel today He promises to finish what He has started in me.[2] I know Him as a creator, a craftsman; extraordinarily patient in the process of making everything fit and flow to create the best possible mix. Like my musical heroes with their songs, He is telling a story, our story – my story – because it matters to Him.

 

Like Music, life has it’s own rhythm. Not one song is like another; just as in one moment we experience the joy of living only to trade it in for the grief of wanting it all to end. These life rhythms predictably take us through the mountains and valleys where those around us practice the use of a cliché in a sentence to “encourage” us on our dark days. In those moments we are reminded that life has various shades that color the mood, the melody and the beat. Yes, let’s not forget the beat that drives the music along like fuel for a car on a scenic road trip. Fast or slow, in the pocket or slightly syncopated, its various forms provide the rhythms that move us from cradle to grave. And it is on that road in the “between” that we discover the rhythm of life – life rhythms – that feed the soul, rescue the heart and transform scraps of paper with scribbled notes and fragmented moments into a masterpiece that is a must hear!

 

As I listened to these seasoned musicians talk about the artist’s approach to song writing, what stood out to me was his uncommon desire not to simply “play the ink,” but to allow for collaboration. They tried different tempos, adjusted melodies; they experimented with extraordinary sounds on their instruments mastered over a lifetime to help shape the final results. I think the Creator is a collaborator. He invites us to sit with Him – to reason together[3] – to offer our own reaction or accent, even a complaint or two. After all, did He not create us for relationship? And relationship demands conversation at every level and on every subject! If I have learned anything about this relationship in fifty-three years is that it is intended to be deeply personal and intimate. Just as these new “tunes” are speaking to deep places in my heart, so He comes through the moments of my life to speak to the hidden and undiscovered places in that same heart.

 

The second track of this album is already one of my favorites and was composed on the keyboard rather than his primary instrument, the guitar. He played the simple tune on every keyboard over the course of months from his living room piano to the pipe organ at the Mormon Tabernacle in Salt Lake City and everything in between. His wife said that she grew so tired of hearing that same little tune played, not very well, over and over again. When the mix of that song was done he brought her into the studio to hear it for the first time in its finished form. What she heard was beautiful and moving. What she learned was that it was a love song about their relationship. All that time she heard him stumbling around on the keys she never knew what he was hearing in his head and heart until that moment.

 

I have to be honest and say out loud that I don’t always appreciate the little riffs He repeats over and over in my life. Those moments that make me feel like I’m stuck in Groundhog Day feeling like the patterns of my life and the miserable results will never change – ever! What I cannot see or know is what is in His heart about my story. I cannot hear the finished product mixed so precisely that every note played or syllable sung combine perfectly to tell the whole story – a story so unabridged; so beautiful; so rich and full that I no longer care to know “why”.

 

Today, I still want to know why some things happen as they do. Why failure instead of success? Why sorrow instead of joy? Why less instead of more? Maybe it’s time to just sit back in my recliner – smile – and listen for every nuance of the thoughts running through my mind, to imagine with faith what only the Creator can see and simply trust the process again. This is how I can collaborate with the Master Creator who has some thing to say to me about me… maybe even some thing to say to others through my story.

 

Would it startle you to know that He sees you for what you are becoming and not the fragmented incomplete beginnings you see? Would it surprise you that the stories of your life have something to say about Him? Would it astonish you that the story about Him has something to say about you? Would it shock you that all that fumbling around He seems to be doing is really all about the preparation of a love song that celebrates the love story between you and Him? It may be time to start paying attention to the life rhythms stirring in your heart, listening close to the Voice that may in fact be seeking to create something new and compelling in you and through you. Go ahead and preorder the finished product, it’ll be worth the wait![4]

[1] Ephesians 2:10, NKJV Bible

[2] Philippians 1:6, NKJV Bible

[3] Isaiah 1:18, NKJV Bible

[4] Colossians 3:2-4

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