Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Why I'm Thankful for Gospel Music

Well, one reason anyway: miracles happen when I hear it.

Check out this audio, and you'll hear what I mean: It's of writer Anne Lamott reading the chapter titled "Knocking on Heaven's Door," from her spiritual memoir, Traveling Mercies. I've linked to version that appeared on salon.com; I'm not sure how close it is to the one that appears in the book.

This is going to take some work, but it's worth it, I promise:

1. Go to thislife.org, the website of the radio program This American Life.
2. In the window on the left, scroll down to "Search This Site," and type in "Anne Lamott."
3. Tap on the first listing that comes up on the right, titled "Music Lessons."
4. Choose whatever audio system you listen to.
5. Once that window pops up, move the bar that controls the timing to 39:57 into the audio (although the whole program is enjoyable, this is where Lamott's reading begins).
6. Enjoy!

This story (and, for the record, much of Lamott's work) pierces my heart every time I read it. A loving, grouchy, Jesusy lady who isn't always sure how she feels about her fellow man finds herself in a situation that's one part scary and two parts annoying. But remembering a miracle she's seen--a miracle wrought in part by God's work and gospel music--is enough for her to rest in for a while. The audio also includes a rendition of "His Eye is on the Sparrow" performed by Renola Garrison (the woman mentioned in the story) with accompaniment by pianist Anne Jefferson.

Here's my favorite quote:

"I can't imagine anything but music that could have brought about this alchemy. Maybe it's because music is about as physical as it gets: your essential rhythm is your heartbeat; your essential sound, the breath. We're walking temples of noise, and when you add tender hearts to this mix, it somehow lets us meet in places we get to any other way."

May the sweet wonder of God's work in our lives--and the beauty of His good-news music--allow us to meet Him and those around us in fresh and loving ways.


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