On Practicing Life-Music and Meditating over Meatloaf
We wander through her sleepy streets, in and out of galleries, until we settle on a cafe, across from an old church that serves as a music venue now. We choose an outside table, and the metal chairs wobble on cobblestone sidewalk, just him and me. At home I make us curry chicken wraps, replete with peaches and cilantro, serve them with smoothies, but here I order meatloaf and potatoes, and this makes him laugh.
We eat slowly, we people-watch, we talk. This night we circle around the same thread we always return to, like the favorite corner of a well-worn blanket. This is the conversation we come home to when our hearts grow quiet, more often when they need quieting: calling, purpose, vocation, what we are made for and where we are going.
We pay the bill and across the street a few teenagers file into the old church, gangly arms around awkward instrument cases and amplifiers in tow. And older couple follows, her white hair loose, long, liberated. I watch a young family struggle up the stone steps with a stroller and a pizza box. I wonder what kind of music draws all these people together.
We make our way back to the car, across the bridge and home. Home. Back to the sink full of dishes and the little people who call us Mama and Daddy, the laundry and the litanies.
And I think of the music being made in that house meant for worship, and the cacophony of sounds my house must leak out: the clinking of dishes and (not so) occasional tantrums, the laughter of friends gathered around the back table and the rare moments of silence, intense conversation and the uncontrollable giggling of toddlers – all our lives in sound bites emanating through screens and back doors, wafting to the ears of kids walking home from half-days of school and the kind rector faithfully walking her dogs.
The longer I search for direction and calling, the smaller my vision seems to become. The building matters less, and the music matters more. And I’m nervous and comforted by this at the same time. I’m less sure about my where‘s and what‘s, learning to lean into my how‘s and who‘s, and mostly Whose.
At home, I sit quiet, and think about the music: how I long for my life-song to be, above all else, a song of love – always love at the center; and to dare to traverse to the lower keys: lower, lower to serve and to see rightly; how I am craving a rhythm of obedience, a cadence that carries the joy and grief and beauty and heartache all back to praise.
And all that sounds nice, scrolled out all flowery, and there are moments when this music flows and wafts, but more often it is afternoons spent in mundane practice. And practicing obedience and humility and love is a messy practice of missed notes and off keys.
I think of the oboe packed away at my parents’ house, abandoned in the eighth grade for lack of commitment, as much as lack of talent. And the piano lessons I wriggled out of for lack of gratification. And I can live without oboe and piano, but this life song is one I cannot stop singing.
So I keep fumbling and practicing the music of love.
My mind wanders back to the teenagers, and I imagine mothers that made them practice instruments after school. I’m home tucked in for the night, but I wonder what kind of music they’re making at that old church by the cafe, and if the family with the stroller is still there.