Music Speaks When Words Cannot

Lachrymose: tearful or given to weeping; inducing tears

My younger brother was invited to participate in a piano master class at Reinhardt University last week. It’s a time of intense enrichment, connection with other blossoming pianists, and sharing with the community.

My mother and I made a trip at the end of that week to listen to his performance. The program listed him as the last performer. (I won’t say some “save the best for last” smugness didn’t wash over me a little.) The other musicians had their merits and gifts, but when my tall, handsome, serious brother walked unto that stage, he carried a presence no one else possessed.

Sitting down on the bench, he closed his eyes, mentally prepping himself for the performance. The moment of silence was almost breathtaking. My brother wasn’t classically trained throughout his entire piano “career”, but his hard work and persistence was evident as he made the keys sing. The notes he fingered made your heart soar, withheld your breath every few moments, and caused your mind to climb into the rich, emotional journey of the music.

Personally, classical music has a way of stirring eternal longings in my heart. It causes a blanket of peace to settle over my heart like snow that clothes the hills and valleys, giving it an ethereal, majestic quality. It shifts your mood and induces reflection. Beauty is the silencer of all discord.

As I sat, mesmerized by the music, tears welled up out of nowhere and slipped down my cheek. How is it that music can express sentiments better than words can?

After what seemed like one moment, the music ceased and the sound of enthusiastic applause took its place. My heart beamed with such sisterly pride. Gratitude swept over me as those that had chosen to give him a chance congratulated his work.

I pray that as he continues his ascent into mastery, the hearts and minds of listeners would be touched by the beauty of life and reminded of its Creator. Isn’t that what life is all about?
~Lina Marie

realMy brother was invited to play in New York City this August by a non-profit called Project 142. Its objective is to give blossoming musicians a chance to perform on a wider platform. Please check out his GoFundMe page for updates and more information. Any layer of support is much appreciated! https://www.gofundme.com/JesseNYConcert

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Mountain Memories

Respite: a delay or cessation for a time, especially of anything distressing or trying; an interval of relief:

Last week, I took a few days off from work to visit the family of close friends in the Blue Ridge Mountains. The mother (who’s also a grandmother) has Alzheimer’s, so visits are frequent by the daughter, but I got to accompany this time around. The road trip was mostly uneventful though it included a stop to Starbucks and watching the musical Carousel with only one earbud. On the day we left home, the weather graced us with an early spring of 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

Upon arrival, we hauled our things into the spacious, two-story house, almost reminiscent of a Bed and Breakfast. I met the mother, father, aunt, uncle by marriage, and two pooches initially wary of a new person, but they warmed up quickly. After supper was eaten and cleaned up, we all sat around on the sofas listening to the early election turnouts. Not one interested in politics (and forgetting that I’m not 12 years old anymore and actually can vote), I tuned out the chatter on the television and savored the newness of my location.

The next two days were filled with coffee, relaxation, laughter, and intimacy. We sifted through old family photos, visited a local coffee shop in town, swung by an apple orchard (though out of season) and sipped on apple cider, and enjoyed the unexpected outpouring of an afternoon snowfall.Snowfall Blue Ridge edited

For me, it was a commercial break from reality and obligations. Honestly, when I woke up in the mornings, I almost didn’t know what to do with myself, because I was so used to routinely being busy and having an agenda; therefore, when I didn’t have one, my brain didn’t know how to handle the rest. It was the first time in awhile that I felt guilt-free for sitting around chatting and absorbing the moment without feeling the need to jump headlong into the next task. On top of that, the home I stayed in didn’t have Wi-Fi which was actually pretty nice.

We’ve lost the art of good ole relationship building without being overly focused on productivity and time management. Yes, we have schedules, appointments, and plans that need to be met, but if you find yourself overly busy all the time, take a long look at your priorities and obligations and see what you must fulfill and what you can let go. I can assure you that years down the line and even on your deathbed, you won’t wish you stayed longer at the office or completed all those extra credit assignments. Relationships and rest are fundamental to life, happiness, growth, and satisfaction.

The next time you get the chance to frolic to the mountains, beach, or road trip, I’d encourage you to take it. Life has a way of dragging us every which way, and it’s important to stop and take some deep breaths. (Oh, and stay off your cell phone as much as possible!) Needless to say,  I was not ready to come home or be jolted back into the daily grind. However, those mountain memories, rejuvenating rests, and lessons realized will be cherished forever.

~Lina Marie

 

Rest for a Withered Soul

Lassitude: a state or feeling of weariness, diminished energy, or listlessness

It’s no secret our society is overworked, sleep-deprived, and perpetually caffeinated. There are always deadlines to meet, homework to turn in, social events to attend, friendships to cultivate,Coffee shop for blog domestic life to maintain, family to spend time with, the list marches on! It. Never Stops.

Often when you ask people how they’re doing, “busy” or “tired” have become the default answers. We associate our well-being with our productivity. And running about at break-neck speeds has become normal.

I definitely do not consider myself the busiest person in my social or work sphere, but I’ve noticed even when I take a moment to lie down or stop, my mind is still spinning about what I need to get done next and how long it’ll take. And then I feel guilty for spending time doing nothing when I could be knocking out tasks and checking off to-do lists.

We desperately need rest and complain about being tired but then feel guilty when we take a restful moment to slow down.

Even if we’re not terribly busy, we still assume the appearance. A good friend of mine and I recently talked about how unfortunate it is that it’s deemed strange to just sit down at a coffee shop or stand in the grocery line without scrolling on our phones or looking occupied. Why is that odd? Are we so conditioned to being busy or doing something that the appearance of rest and not being preoccupied seems…weird or lazy?

Additionally, in the pursuit of fulfilling obligations and responsibilities, we often let our souls wither. We cast to the side our art, music, writing, exploring, photography, graphic designing, reading, you name it, because they take substantial investment and we simply “don’t have time”. But then our gifts and joys, dying to be nourished and thrive, gather dust and our lives become less meaningful, more hollow, diminished in vibrancy and color.

Think about what you’d heartily pursue if time, obligations, and money were of no concern. Once you’ve identified that, identify the areas in your life that you can shave off or work more efficiently to maximize the use of your time.

For example, I really enjoy journaling, reading, and engaging in spiritual disciplines. I work full-time and am in school part-time, so most of the time, I have those responsibilities. I’ve noticed when I spend time on social media, I feel more restless and distracted, so limiting myself to one or two days a week of social media checking is just enough. When I have homework, I give myself time limits; this helps me to stay completely focused and get the task done in a timely manner. Also, though drinking coffee doesn’t make me jittery or hyper, my sleep quality does suffer if I give into that evening cup of coffee, so after a certain time, I refrain from drinking caffeinated beverages. All this to say, I give myself boundaries in order to redeem time and have freedom. Sounds paradoxical, but it works every time.

Find what works for you and stick to it. Jesus didn’t say He’d give you rest only on the weekends or when you’re not doing anything. He perpetually beseeches us all to take on His yoke and come to Him when we’re weary. It’s an open invitation. If we’re supposed to cloak ourselves with His rest, let’s not sprint during the weekdays only to crash and burn on the weekends but always jog at a steady pace, resting in His rest and knowing our limits.

After all, the Enemy is restless when we’re at rest, so why give him any pleasure in our constant busyness?

The next time you have the chance, I dare you to put aside the obligations and responsibilities and without any guilt, bask in the goodness of Jesus Christ and do NOTHING. Or dust off your passions and spend some time indulging in what delights your soul. Or take a good ole nap, hike, coffee shop visit or tackle that personal project you’ve been putting off. You’ll feel refreshed, inspired, and invigorated.

It’s high time we put busyness back in its rightful place.

~Lina Marie