Three wonderful connections that make me feel held by an unseen hand. Three connections to remind me that there is an unseen reality, and that God is here right now, alive and well and wherever we are:
First..…. We watched ‘A Star Is Born’ the other evening. It’s a remake, with Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper. Frankie (granddaughter) didn’t know that there was an original and very famous version of the film, and I had never seen it anyway, so we came to the title sequence with no high expectations. I don’t think we moved for the entire film. We were silent and engrossed. At the end, the closing song, I found myself weeping. Me! Hard hearted Hannah! Weeping at a fiction created by someone else, a fiction! Me, who reserves tears for real life and can see through the manipulation of storytelling…. And I hadn’t even once criticised the plot, or sighed at the dialogue, or complained about cliché, or called the director a twit or…. anything. It’s a good film. During the closing number Frankie was weeping too, but she has the excuse of being 18 and so she’s ready for a good old bawl at just about any time. I suppose I have the excuse that my husband has been dead for years and years and years and the song had lyrics like “Wish I could have said goodbye… If I knew, it would be the last time it would have broken my heart in two, trying to save a part of you.” The power of music. The truth of words. The sweet pain of longing. They sent me right back to the last time I saw my George, waving a milk bottle at me (true) and pulling a daft face. And when I came back to the house, not long after, he was dead. ‘Wish I could have said goodbye.’
And then….. connection number two: Yesterday I was talking to a friend and we found ourselves once again talking about prayer. It struck me as we spoke that prayer is like beautiful music, and like music it exists for our delight. Music and prayer take us to another level of consciousness, of tenderness and vulnerability. There is a completeness and perfection in both.
You all know by now that I’m not wise, and I don’t claim any great insight but I know with calm certainty, unshakeable certainty, that when we pray we delight God. I feel his delight and it delights me. Maybe that’s the whole story of prayer, beginning to end. Maybe there’s no more to say. Prayer exists to delight God. And in his delight we find our own, and that’s what God wants, our delight. He wants our joy. We are the infants at his knee, trusting and full of nonsense, and he loves us.
In prayer we are fulfilled, right back there in the Garden of Eden, where God always intended us to be. We were made to be in communion with him and the tragedy of sin is that we spend our whole damn lives away from him but in prayer we step into eternity, step into God. Prayer completes us, imperfect as we are.
If I pray for you, it’s not about getting what I want for you, prayer is submitting to what God wants for you, knowing that he gives goodness, because he is goodness. We don’t pray in order to persuade God about anything. And we don’t earn anything by praying. Praying is its own reward, the way of joining with God in his love for the world, for the people we are praying for, it’s about revelling in God’s love for humanity, flawed and defiant as we are. Prayer delights both the worshipper and the God of the Universe, the listener and the musician. It has no other purpose but to be.
Waiting for connection number three? This is the stunner: I was thinking about all this as I made dinner tonight. I don’t usually have music playing, I love silence, but tonight because of my thoughts about prayer and music I played that song by Lady Gaga again, and then – thinking of my husband – I played two Tina Turner songs (he loved Tina T!) volume up, raw voice, strong words, demanding a reaction.
We ate dinner. As Frankie did the washing up (good girl!) here’s the third and amazing connection.….I had an email from my daughter, the first for some time, and this is what it said, referring to the first few years after George’s death:
if you get a few minutes to blast this bad-ass tune out full belt then join me in the wonderful flashback of being together in one of your old jags, you on the phone, me changing to 5th gear when you hit the clutch, and Dad being somewhere there too, taking in Tina Turner with us both. Love you x
Why then? Why Tina Turner? The first time we have spoken about her for years and years and years…. my daughter had no idea what I’ve been thinking about, who I’ve been talking to… we are a hundred miles apart, but tonight God has brought us together. Tonight God has taught me something very important about prayer, something so delicate and wonderful that it defies words. But hey – this is me – so I’ll give it a go, stand by… here it comes…..
God is real. He is active in our lives.
So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
2 Corinthians 4:18
PS. Yes, in that email… she’s right, I was on the phone, driving. But in my defence, M’Lud, it was the early 1990’s… we all know better now.