Soul Food

Music feeds the soul.

Indeed, it even changes our brains.  That’s the reason why some nursing homes play music from days gone by, transporting the residents back to a time their bodies were young, their minds were free and all things were possible. Music is healing.

Music also forms the soundtracks of our most significant moments. Tucked away in some box in storage is your angsty teenage breakup mix (thank-you Melissa Ethridge) and your I’m Amazing and Can Change the World mix (thank-you Amy and Emily). We belt out our heartache and sing of our strength boldly in the key of whatever.  We remember our prom song, wedding songs, and the hours we spent choosing each song to include on whatever mix we needed to get us through the next heartbreak or triumph.

And what teenage girl didn’t define love the very moment John Cusack held his boom box high under his crush’s window and blasted, “In Your Eyes?” “I gave her my love and she gave me a pen.” We vowed to be better than that girl.

Music is a guilty pleasure for the professional who listens to techno in the car, the soccer mom who secretly rocks out to Britney Spears, the teenager who loves show tunes,the middle aged women who push and shove to stand 20 feet away from Bono claiming the younger generation can’t possibly appreciate U2 as much.(Yes, he was singing right to ME)

Mothers sing love, comfort and healing to their children as they lay in their beds or hospital rooms. We sing to them to believe, to soothe, to survive. Music was Aidan’s NICU companion when I couldn’t be there, attempting to drown out the machines, the medical staff, the weight of sorrow. When he came home, I tried to sing him out of his shell of illness, and used song to convince myself he was mine.

Music brings people together. I went to Russia in high school with my chorus. The language was nowhere near familiar and I had very few useful phrases to engage anyone. But when we sang together with Russian students, we were one voice. Fast forward several years to a moment I, as a camp counselor, was left alone with a Russian girl. On a whim, and willing to feel completely ridiculous, I started singing the one Russian peace song I had learned from my travels. Her face lit up and she started to sing. It was a brief interaction but it was music that bridged that moment.

Music says, “I am with you” and it is the language of peace. The women’s chorus that I sing with is headed to Cuba this weekend. They will give their voices as a gift, they will receive music with open hearts, their songs will create a space for unity from “otherness.”

Sing for yourselves sisters and you cannot help but welcome others into the places where humanity collides.

6 thoughts on “Soul Food

  1. Coincidentally, I just made up a song for Trevy who is out of sorts. It goes like this…

    Sometimes I feel like a cranky butt…

    and I just neeeeeed a mommmy’s hug…

    It’s very catchy. 🙂


  2. Love this, Heather! Bono? YES. But Sting singing Fields of Gold without his shirt on? I’m gonna need a minute to remember how to breathe. 😉

    Great story telling.


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