Sing Your New Song
April 25, 2013
He put a new song in my mouth,
a song of praise to our God;*
many shall see, and stand in awe,
and put their trust in the Lord. (Psalm 40:3)
Last fall I became a music student for the first time since high school. I’d been talking about taking guitar lessons for the last 25 years but you know about that road paved with good intentions. There were all sorts of obstacles like school and relationships and work and children and suddenly you look like an aging Peter Frampton without the hard-charging rock ‘n roll lifestyle to show for it.
So what changed? My youngest son, Zack, decided to take up the bass guitar and rather than drive him to his lesson every week just to sit and stare at my iPhone, I scheduled a concurrent lesson.
It’s not as if I hadn’t touched my guitar for all that time but it was a rare occurrence. Over the years I’d kept the old Fender Stratocaster in my office closet, perhaps as a window into younger days or even as an icon of guilt. Every once in a while, when it had been that kind of day, I’d plug it in and crank up the amp after everyone had left. Finally, after all these years, my guitar has come out of the closet and now that I’m actually taking lessons again I’m learning new things every week and some of them even stick.
There’s something about tapping into your latent creative side that is wonderfully enriching. I find it’s especially easy for adults to lose their creative edge amid the demands of simply getting through the day. Like everything else in life – including prayer – it takes intentionality to carve out time for creativity. It’s not about the talent – fortunately – it’s about finding things that nurture the soul and allow us to use the gifts and passions bestowed upon us by God. I’m trying both metaphorically and literally to plug into this but pursuing your creativity may well be unplugged – like art or writing or cooking or gardening or woodworking. As I’ve recently rediscovered, even the most latent creativity is a window into the divine.
What do you do to nurture your creative side?
Is there a “new song” God might be putting in your mouth? An activity or project God might be calling you to take up?
Lovely post! For me, the effect is not limited to “creative” activities; it has to do with the wonder of learning. I always think of this passage from T.H. White’s “The Once and Future King” in this regard:
“The best thing for being sad,” replied Merlyn, beginning to puff and blow, “is to learn something. That is the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then – to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. Learning is the thing for you. Look at what a lot of things there are to learn – pure science, the only purity there is. You can learn astronomy in a lifetime, natural history in three, literature in six. And then, after you have exhausted a milliard lifetimes in biology and medicine and theocriticism and geography and history and economics – why, you can start to make a cartwheel out of the appropriate wood, or spend fifty years learning to begin to learn to beat your adversary at fencing. After that, you can start again on mathematics, until it is time to learn to plough.”
(Or maybe, in this view, everything is “creative”?
To answer your question, though: learning new music for singing is one of these things for me. It’s always a fascinating process to learn new choral music, and the techniques for singing it in a group. Learning to bake has been another one; cooking in general is always a learning process. Learning how to teach English as a Second Language, and learning more about it as you do it
There’s always, thanks be to God, something new to learn….)