“Listen and Repeat”


“Let everything with breath praise The Lord.”

Psalm 150:6

It has always been my intent for Project Onefifty to be the artistic expression of this passage, for this verse to live and breathe in the everyday through music and media of all kinds.

So what does it mean to praise the Lord during seasons good and bad? Is it to ignore pain and pretend all is well? Is it to embrace joy when others are lost and alone?

Todays post does not attempt to answer these questions despite needing them in my own heart and life. Today is just about the thoughts and feelings of the morning, a gentle wrestling, with a greater match sure to come…

* * * * *

I am not inspired.

The dawn was once again beautiful, the morning star shining in its loneliness against the background of the coming day. Hours later the crispness of the early hours still lingers, more a foretaste of the fall than in truth a midsummers day in the South.

I sit on my smallish porch in one of two weathered white rocking chairs, a faded pillow against the small of my back. A gorgeous river birch is shading my eyes from the overt glare of the sun. The prevailing sound is that of the wind in the front maple tree, green and full on this July Monday. In the fall it glows a fiery red before letting go of it’s glory, always reaching heavenward even when I do not.

As usual my thoughts stray to music…

But these days music is not the balm it has been. There’s certainly no shortage of great music to enjoy, despite all those people prophesying it’s death. There is more great art to be found now than I can ever remember. My memory is not great for certain things, but it’s filled with a lifetime of music.

It’s not that music no longer holds me in gentle thrall…far from it. It’s my passion as well as my chief (better make that only) export. I hear music even now in the whispering wind and the birdsong from the woods behind my house. Even the occasional shouts of kids playing at the big hill provide accents of sorts.

I still live and breathe and dream in notes and rhythms.

For all the sensory input of the morning, I am not inspired. Yet the fire to create burns as red as the fall maple.

They say that only amateurs wait for inspiration, and that ‘real’ artists and writers simply get up and go to work. I live in the Nashville area, a city built on music built from 9-5. But hey…I have no hits, so who am I to knock the work ethic of those who do?

So I sit here on my porch with my pen and journal, doing the work of a writer…recording thought and feeling, digging for truth in spite of myself. My dog Farley is here with me, sniffing the breeze like he knows something is up. Today I wish I had his instincts.

For some reason I think of my time growing up. Where did that come from?

Back in the ancient days of the 20th century, a diploma demanded two years of a foreign language. The choices were few: German (hard), Spanish (who wants to be called Jorge? ‘hey Whore-Hey!’), and French. Despite being born in West Germany, I chose French. That’s still Europe, right? Little did I know I would be ‘Monsieur Georges’ for the next two years. Sure, it looks innocuous enough in print, but try being a freshman and sophomore with a name pronounced ‘zHOrsh.’ Not the manliest of names for an emergent nerd.

While life with French I & II teacher Madame Gobeill had its moments, I sadly remember few words and phrases. But one still comes to mind from time to time:

‘Ecouter et répéter’ or ‘listen and repeat.’

There’s a lesson here. The great writers are constantly listening to the world around them, soaking in life and revealing it as it is and as it should be. The great musicians listen intently to the music in which they willingly drown, looking for just the right moment to add to the magic their own insight and vision. There is simply nothing else like these moments…

Listen and repeat.

The maple is still reaching toward heaven even as the wind rustles a rhythm for the still-singing birds. Music and magic and inspiration abound.

Father, thank You for the gift of this day. Help me to listen and repeat and follow the song You placed within.