“Make me an instrument of your peace,” we regularly pray at our parish. I wonder what instrument I would be in God’s orchestra—an oboe, a cello, or something else?
Following Jesus involves playing a part in a graced performance. The Holy Spirit conducts beautiful movements, offers subtle direction, and provides new sheets of music just as I think I’ve run out of pages.
I’d like to be in the violin section, not the first chair, but maybe in the third row. Not all of God’s instruments star in solos. As a violin I imagine a bow in the hand of the Master Musician, who holds me and draws me closer. Deep within I resonate with a melody I hardly recognize as God works to create dynamic movements.
When I was a month old, my parents took me for Baptism, and the music reached a crescendo. But I’ve been picking up notes for my part in God’s symphony since before I was born. Countless people prayed for me in utero, because my closest sibling had a grave birth defect. I will never know all the instruments of God’s grace that influenced my life. My ancestors really knew how, as St. Paul said, to address “one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart.” (Ephesians 5:19, ESV) Our family regularly sang together.
Setting a passage to music helps me memorize Scripture. Later the melody and message surface unsolicited, just when I need them. I’ve felt music permeate my body with tangible sound waves. God works like that. I vibrate with gratitude for the Divine Presence. But I’m not alone in my labors. God always accompanies me, even when I’m stumbling on the notes.
The Psalms call for timbrel and harp to praise the Creator. The harp might sit front and center, but even when it doesn’t, its showy shape is unmissable. Some people are like that. Do I appreciate them, even though we are very different? In an orchestra, the harp appears only occasionally in the score, and yet its ethereal-sounding strings soothe the listener.
On the other hand, it’s surprising when the timpani booms or cymbals clash. How often those instruments sit, waiting for their short but tremendous contribution to the body of music! I’m something beautiful in the music that is God’s creative self-expression. When called upon, we need to play our parts with passion.
Some days I feel like a baby oblivious to the commotion as she pounds randomly on piano keys. And still, God works with such chaos.
Music is my favorite prayer style. I wonder if Jesus played a simple instrument, had a good voice, and whether he loved to sing. I then think about the instruments gracing my life, those people who bring out the best music within me. I remember two specific confessors who served as instruments of grace when sinful patterns threatened to overwhelm me. Their wise words turned me back to the Divine.
Taking part in God’s symphony involves repetitions as key themes weave in and out. God unites a diverse community to harmonize as God’s Son plays alongside.
Jesus, you are music to my ears, and oh, how sweet the sound.