I rarely listen to music, because I’m so hypersensitive that I can very rarely listen to music and do anything else at the same time. I get overwhelmed by the emotion. (The exception is when I’m driving, when music helps me forget that I’m driving, which is a good thing since driving is terrifying to me.)
A few days ago I got a craving for a CD I haven’t listened to in years – Rich Mullins’ “The Jesus record”.
As the title suggests, it’s a Christian CD. Rich Mullins recorded demos for the album, then died suddenly (in a plane crash) so one CD is his demos, and the other is various other people singing his songs.
The demo is haunting, with Rich Mullins playing along with himself on either piano or guitar. You can hear other people in the room, and the cracks in his voice, and the thunk of the cassette recorder getting stopped and started again. The songs themselves are very good – each one is about Jesus, who is always a fascinating topic.
My favourite thing about Jesus is his vulnerability – growing up as a human child on earth is a daring move – and my least favourite thing is how incredibly difficult he is to understand and/or connect too. The record covers both aspects with gentleness and honesty.
One of the lyrics is the complaint of the disapproving religious elite about Jesus: “The gays all seem to love him and the drunks propose a toast” (I changed to the word “gay” from one that isn’t child-safe, but the principle of the deleted word is the same, ie people the church thinks are bad, but who Jesus loves and spends his time around. The original word refers to “sinful women” but is rude).
Another song addresses God directly:
Do you remember when you lived down here where we all scrape to find the faith to ask for daily bread? Did you forget about us after you had flown away?
. . . your ways and you are just plain hard to get.
It’s rare for me to connect with God (generally my prayers involve a lot of swearing – heartfelt, but not that much fun for either of us), but he showed up today as I cancelled my plans and listened to the CD from beginning to end. When he does show up, the world’s suffering isn’t so bad, my mental illness doesn’t define me, and God himself is as pleasant and ordinary as my cats sprawled delightedly in a patch of sun. I don’t know why God doesn’t make himself obvious all the time, but in moments like this I’m too content to care.
Play along at home: Listen to a CD you loved ten years ago. Or, for bonus points, say hi to God and see if he says hi back.
Tomorrow: Trawling through a secondhand clothes shop. What bizarre treasures will I find this time?