Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Easy to miss............................

     The phrase "still, small voice" comes from the King James Version's rendering of the "sheer silence" in the Elijah story, an interpretation that isn't the best translation of the Hebrew but that does represent well the nature of God's communication with us.  The sovereign King of the universe, to our surprise, does not often trumpet his message to his subjects.  God's volume knob is rarely turned all the way to the right; his voice in our ears is subtle, restrained, even easy to miss.

-Adam S. McHugh, The Listening Life

A pilgrim on a journey.......................

      A loud, overcrowded, hyperactive life is the antithesis of the listening life. The hyperactive life is so often trying to prove its worth, make its mark, and justify its existence. The listening life waits, quietly and humbly, for God to make his mark on us. 
       John Coltrane, legendary jazz saxophonist, made his mark on the jazz world by improvising at breakneck speed. No one had ever seen a musician who could play and move his fingers so feverishly. Soon he was playing gigs with the superstars of his day and changing the way people understood the genre. Unfortunately, much of the frenzy that marked Coltrane's style was the result of the substances in his system. In 1957, his system ravaged by drugs and alcohol, and his career and life on the brink of collapse, Coltrane went to his mother's house and sought God in the quiet of his room. According to pastor and jazz aficionado Robert Gelinas, "Four days later, he emerged a changed man, for—according to him—God had met him in a most unusual way. It was a sound, a droning resonance, a reverberation, unlike anything he had ever heard." God's presence came to John Coltrane as a sound. 
      Not only did this divine groove change his life, it changed the way he played. The frantic improvisation was replaced by a slow, soulful style, in which Coltrane listened for the God sound to come again and tried to replicate it on his sax. Gelinas explains that "he came to believe that if he could play that sound for others, the they, too, could experience what he had experienced during those four days in his bedroom. For the rest of his life, Coltrane sought to find that music that had healed him, and while he was never able to rediscover it, he recorded one of the best-selling jazz albums of all time, A Love Supreme,  during this musical pilgrimage.  The four parts of A Love Supreme follow a pilgrim on his journey toward God.

-Adam S. McHugh, The Listening Life