WorshipWeb: Braver/Wiser: A Weekly Message of Courage and Compassion

Playlists of the Spirit

By Connie Simon

In a black and white photo, a young Black girl dances on a busy city street while listening to music on headphones

“When you know the notes to sing, you can sing most anything.”
—Oscar Hammerstein II

“Doe, a deer, a female deer…” Many of us instantly recognize that as the first line of the song “Do, Re, Mi” from “The Sound of Music.” You might even be able to picture Julie Andrews (oops: Maria) telling the Von Trapp children that these notes are the “tools we use to build a song. Once you have these notes in your heads you can sing a million different tunes by mixing them up” — after which, of course, she bursts into song. Within three minutes, they’re all harmonizing and parading through the streets and waterways of Salzburg having a good ol’ time.

I know it’s corny, but it’s true. Think of all the music you know: every song you’ve ever sung, or danced to, or heard on the radio. Every single one of them is a different arrangement of the same notes. Using the power of imagination, composers have mixed those notes up in a gazillion different ways to express a multitude of emotions.

No matter how I’m feeling — happy or sad, sick or well, fragile or unbreakable, loved or unloved — I turn to music. Music is my solace and my comfort, the one thing that’s always with me. I feel its vibration deep in my soul; it’s my spiritual practice. Music can calm me, excite me, and sometimes its beauty even moves me to tears. I have playlists for exercising, celebrating, mourning, driving, housecleaning… and some for just being. From Bach to James Brown, there’s an arrangement of those same notes for every occasion in my life, including the hard times. Music tells the story of my life.

I recently went through a really rough patch. I was recovering from an accident and still trying to keep up with school and my other responsibilities. I felt out of control and lost. Once again, music saved me. I played quiet, soothing music when it hurt to move. I sang inspirational gospel music for encouragement when I began to stretch my sore limbs. Today I listen to thumping hip-hop as I work my muscles back into shape. I’m forever grateful for my music — those do-re-mi’s that fill my soul and provide the playlist for my life.

May we each be blessed by the presence and power of music in our lives.

Bonus: Connie Simon reports that she power-lifts at the gym while listening to Fred Hammond's "Take Me to the Water."