Sunday, January 14, 2018

Listening to The Tune

One of the readings at Church today was from the book of Samuel.  It was the story of how Samuel, a young man growing up in the temple kept hearing somebody call his name in the middle of the night.  He would get up and go to Eli the priest and say "You called me?" Eli kept sending the boy back to bed and then finally realized it was God speaking to him and so instructed him when he heard it next time to say "Speak Lord, your servant is listening".

Samuel hadn't learned to recognize the difference between the voice of God within and other voices.  He went on however to learn to listen very well and to tell others what he heard God saying.  He eventually anointed David as King over Israel.

But taking time to listen to God's voice within is not always easy.  It takes practice and the ability to set aside time, quiet our hearts and prepare them for being able to listen.

For example, there was a time in my life where my self-loathing was so pronounced that I was afraid to listen for God's voice because I thought he'd be mad at me.  It took years to grow past this and I remember a turning point was reading Henri Nouwen's "Life of the Beloved" in which I learned to hear and believe the voice of God who loves me infinitely over the voice of my self-loathing.

Recently, I've finally taken the advice of my spiritual advisors down through the years to start journaling... being quiet, listening to God and writing down what I sense Him saying is a highly effective focusing tool for me.  I can always check what I'm hearing against scripture and bounce it off my spiritual advisors to make sure I'm hearing it right... but it has been an extremely valuable experience over the last couple years.

As we were discussing today's reading in my study group, I couldn't help thinking back of the old Larry Norman song called "The Tune".  Probably my all time favorite musical metaphor, it was created by chance in a concert.  He improvised the entire thing live after he flubbed up a bit on the piano and jokingly said "Once there was a tune!" to kind of mock himself.  Luckily someone had taped the show and he was able to recreate it and eventually record it.

Today I went back and watched the little Youtube video I put together back in 2005.  I cannot believe how powerfully it still affects me when I watch it.  I harvested simple images and matched them to the lyrics which are in turn whimsical, funny, tragic and joyous.  I wept at the joyous parts today.  Again.

Maybe you will find joy in it too.

Below are all the lyrics.  Blessings!

Once there was a tune and everyone knew how it went
But as time went by, people began to forget
Until at last no one could remember.
And there was hatred, and wars, and death.

Then one day somebody said, "How does the tune go?"

"There is no tune, there never was; it's only a myth."
These were the philosophers.

"You mean there's no tune at all?"

"Well, it doesn't really matter what tune you play
As long as you play something."
These were the religious leaders.

And so the world played on.
And there was hatred, and wars, and death.

Then one day the people became weary of this song
And they all sat down on the side of a hill
And suddenly they heard a very strange voice
And somebody said, "That sounds like the tune."

"There is no tune, there never was, there never will be."

"Well, it doesn't really matter what tune you play
As long as you play something
And you don't hurt anybody - especially me."

But the people listened
And a man appeared before them
With a smile on his face
And a sad look, too,
And he was singing the tune.

And some of the people began to sing along.

And the people who loved Him
Decided to follow him,
But the people who hated him
Decided to kill him. And they did.

And when it was finished,
They went back to their houses of philosophy and religion
And they sat down to their tables to eat and drink.

Suddenly, they were interrupted by a familiar voice
And they ran to their windows and looked outside
To see who it was. It was him.

And they became confused and afraid
And they wondered how they could be rid of him
Once and for all.
And while they were watching him,
Something very strange happened.

"How did he do that?"
"I don't really know, but he's gone...
And when trouble goes, you don't ask where.
He'll never return again. I hope."

Yet again they were interrupted.
This time they ran out into the streets to lay hold of him
But they couldn't find him.
Just a lot of people smiling, and they all know the tune.

And when the people made a mistake
They stopped and they listened.
That's how they knew the tune,
Because they listened.

And if you listen, you'll heart it.
It's all around you.

Just listen to your radio,
Watch television,
Listen to your leaders, to the authorities,
To the governments, to the experts.

But if you really listen,
You can hear another tune,
But you have to listen quietly,
And you have to listen every day.

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