The sanctuary is nearly empty, quiet but for the faint leaving-noises that filter in as the last people head home. It is a warm space here in the quiet, lights low and the air seems heavier than usual, a good heavy…like a soft warm blanket around my shoulders. We are watching Eldest and his friends go through a song set on the stage. They are practicing today, the first time with a new mentor–a seasoned worship leader who has agreed to work with them once a month or so. I can see, in the first minutes of the practice, how this will transform them…there is a spark beginning as they start to work on Phil Wickham’s Divine Romance. Hubby, who has worked these two years with the group, leans forward in his chair and I feel his excitement grow as first the drums, then bass and rhythm guitar find their places. A new beat changes the song, slows it, and in the spaces where the rests are there is suddenly something else…a grace, a passion. If nature abhors a vacuum, then music abhors a wasted pause. Without Spirit, it is only empty space…but cum spiritus the spaces take on life of their own, are more full than the notes themselves.
I see Eldest, working quietly as the others get a feel for the new rhythm. With some encouragement, he stands and plays aloud what has been forming in his mind and through his hands…and I understand what George Harrison meant when he wrote “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”. A high, plaintive call draws from the strings, then a pause that fills so full that you can’t help but draw in a breath to feel it in your lungs, and behind that follows a low response leading into another insistent note. The notes weave together into the pulse of the drums and the throb of the bass, the steady thrum of rhythm guitar. They soar and dip and there’s a depth, a bittersweet longing that fills the air. Hubby takes my hand and we know we’ve seen something happen here, that this is one of those moments of grace that transforms a person and leaves them new, different. God is glorified in the pauses, when He is allowed to fill them.
And I am suddenly taken back, back to when Eldest was small, when his little hand fit inside mine and I carried him in my arms. It is more than I can comprehend that this man-child, who stands there coming into his own before my eyes, was so short a time ago the little boy who ran barefoot through the warm grass, in cut-off overalls and no shirt; the warm sun wrapping a golden halo around little boy big brown eyes, rosy toddler cheeks, dimpled tiny hands wrapped tight round my finger. The same hands that now pull his own form of worship out of guitar strings, the same hands. I wonder where the time went, I wonder where the time will take him. I am excited and I am heartbroken to see him growing so, the double-edged sword that pierces every mother’s heart.
For the moment, there is only now. There is only music rising up, there is only grace in the empty spaces.