In many shamanic societies, if you came to a shaman or medicine person complaining of being disheartened, dispirited, or depressed, they would ask one of four questions:
When did you stop dancing?
When did you stop singing?
When did you stop being enchanted by stories?
When did you stop finding comfort in the sweet territory of silence?
What can I say about the power of song? A song seems to speak more deeply to the heart than any story can, than any mere words can hope to achieve. The music draws a path deep into our beings, allowing the emotions to be unlocked and the heart to open.
Last night I watched Peter Gabriel perform ‘Biko’, his song about the South African anti-apartheid activist Stephen Biko, who died in police custody. And the injustice and the sadness of it all cut deep inside me as I longed for a world where these things didn’t happen.
On other days I have found myself swept away on songs of freedom, songs of determination, songs of hope, songs of love. I’ve found inspiration in unlikely places – from Def Leppard to David Guetta, Nina Gordon to Nickleback. Stef Lang, Jim Steinman, Leonard Cohen, Edgar Winter, Jonny Lang, Mark Willard, Josh Bates – all have written songs that have sent shivers up my spine as the deep truth has sunk in.
And for me, often, I find my faith boosted as I sing back to the sky – songs of determination, of hope, of triumph, songs of gratitude, songs of faith. One of the ways I feel totally alive is to surround myself with music.
I find myself echoing the words of the psalm writer:
I have been brought out of destruction, out of the clay, and my feet are set upon a rock – making my footsteps secure again. And there is a new song in my mouth, a song of joy.
So, today, sing a new song with me. Find a song of hope, a song that stirs you, that moves you, that speaks to you. And sing.