Life is full of awe-inspiring experiences that boggle heart and mind. I try, as a sort of spiritual discipline, to be grateful for them, even when I can’t really believe, much less understand, them. I’m thinking of things like offspring – that the unique and independent children that occupy so much space in my home (and life) were conceived in and occupied space inside my body for many months. And I’m thinking of affection – how we’re drawn to some people, and not to others, and that a person you find appealing might repulse me. And I’m thinking of how quickly my mind goes to mush when I try to imagine the depths of the sea and the vastness of space. All these things have scientific explanations, I’m sure, and yet there’s a significant element of mystery and awe, nonetheless.
Of the things that, for me, defy adequate explanation, the powerful impact of music (and also the differences among us in individual musical tastes) is among the more fascinating. As the musicians on staff know well, I am quite unsophisticated in my knowledge of music. My exposure to different genres, and my formal musical education, is limited. And yet, I’m not at all immune to the impact of music on my body and my spirit. I am regularly moved to tears (of joy, of grief, of simply feeling deeply) by music – the pop songs my children like to hear in the car, the exquisite liturgical offerings in worship, as well as musical theater and classical orchestral music and stirring movie soundtracks. Music is one of humanity’s greatest expressions.
And it is so obvious as to be cliché: The musical talent in UUCC is astounding. From Tom, Michael, and Jeremy’s professional leadership (and performances!) in our Music Ministry, to the talent in our choirs and other ensembles, to the guests who perform in our Chalice Concert Series and One World Coffeehouse, we are blessed with an embarrassment of riches.
And this weekend, we will be doubly blessed. On Saturday night, Columbia’s own Lavenia Nesmith will perform at the One World Coffeehouse, and then in our worship service on Sunday morning (10am), the Chalice Choir (and guests) will perform Bach’s Magnificat – and not only that, but the rest of us will get to sing some Bach hymns, and we’ll hear a couple of Bach’s instrumental pieces, too.
I’ve never fully believed in the secular vs. sacred distinction, musically or otherwise, for all art is potentially sacred. And this weekend’s musical offerings promise to be so. I hope you’ll be there.