The saints can hear the soundtrack

June 2, 2010 | Daily Spirituality | 26 comments

The other day I was out for a jog, and the stunning song Now We Are Free from the Gladiator soundtrack came on my iPod (you can listen to it on Youtube here). I was so moved by the music, I slowed to a walk to focus it.

It was interesting how my perceptions of my neighborhood changed when I watched them with a soundtrack, so to speak. On my way out I’d seen a woman watering the plants in her front yard; I thought nothing of it. Now, on the way back, with the music playing, it seemed so heroic that she was creating something beautiful for God and her family by so carefully tending to her marigolds and daylilies. The entire scene suddenly seemed like something out of a sweeping epic.

I chuckled at myself for being so melodramatic — I mean, it’s just a woman holding a hose. But as I walked on, seeing my neighborhood through an entirely different lens with the horns and violins swelling in the background, it occurred to me that I was probably seeing things more as they really were. What’s closer to reality: that my neighbor’s front-yard tableau was an unremarkable moment, with nothing extraordinary happening? Or that this I was catching a glimpse of the story of one soul, precious to God, in the middle of her own great life drama that had undoubtedly already involved dreams and disappointments, love and loss, fulfillment and yearning?

I thought that this must be how the saints see our lives when they look down on us from heaven: they see all events against as if playing out against the backdrop of a great soundtrack. They understand the eternal significant of even the most simple things; they know that it’s a victory of epic proportions when a housewife chooses not to yell at her kids when she feels frustrated, or when an elderly lady devotes an hour to prayer instead of watching TV. The same goes for saintly people on earth: right now I see a man walking his dog down the street through the window of my office. To me, it seems like nothing interesting; just a dude and his dog. But I think that if a living saint were to see that same scene, she would feel a tinge of awe to recognize that she was witnessing a snippet of the epic saga of one human life, unfolding before her eyes.

A while back I mentioned that I realized that seeing my life as mundane, my daily actions as unimportant, was creating a surprisingly big block in my spiritual life. In the past few days since that walk with my iPod, whenever I find myself approaching my life and the world around me with a ho-hum attitude, I remind myself to take a step back, and see it all like I would see it with the soundtrack.

26 Comments

  1. That Married Couple

    Beautiful post. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Kaitlin @ More Like Mary

    This is beautiful! What a great way to view the world! I'll have to give it a try!

  3. Tienne

    Jen, I have the same experience whenever my son asks to hear the Best of John Williams on our home music system. Suddenly, pulling the clothes out of the dryer seems so much more poignant, what with the theme from Schindler's List playing in the background. I never thought to connect that to the Saints looking upon the tapestry of our lives, though. Beautiful insight!

  4. Christine

    Wonderful post!!!! The scorpion post was so funny too!

  5. Michael King

    http://pilgrimagediary.blogspot.com
    One word.

    EPIC.

    I love it when those moments come, and I get into a heroic mood and like "Yea, I can be a saint! Let's do this!" Whenever I listen to music like that. My favourite is http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1HtCquBppTc

    I also notice those moments with the dude and his dog. All of Creation's beauty just leaps out at you.

    In the Franciscan tradition, this is called the Book of Creation, and it is EPIC.

  6. Debbie

    I have had moments like that before while listening to music. Never could I have expressed it as well as you, however. Thank you for another wonderful post.

  7. Robin

    Like the ending of the play Our Town, which I think of often in the same vein. Not that I am either a saint or a poet.

  8. Karyn

    I think little kids do this all the time. My son will go around singing the theme for Darth Vader and I think in his head, his stomps around the house are brave and heroic. You have to see Wings of Desire. It's about angels that surround us and serve as witnesses to our lives. What's beautiful are our thoughts that they can hear. Even seemingly mundane musings become beautiful and lofty when listened to by angels.

  9. Lauren

    I love everything about this post. I'm going to try this!

    Everything is different when you view it as an epic. The trials we go through, the experiences that grow us and those tender moments that we think nothing of- unless it's against the background of an epic with theme music included! I love this so much!!! THANK YOU for sharing this beautiful insight!!

  10. Margaret in Minnesota

    A beautiful reflection and absolutely true, to boot. That's a nice combination!

  11. Jessica

    Oh man, I had this EXACT same experience a few weeks ago!!! I wrote a really dramatic poem (and I don't write poetry!) about it on my blog when I came back inside because I was still buzzing with the Spirit of God!

    I have to link to it since it's actually really funny now when I look back on it because it's totally cornball and I was really trying to be oh so "deep" because I was so moved. Ha. http://52prayers.com/index.php/blog/post/today-is-earth-day-not-really-but-it-should-be/

    But I guess there are worse things than being corny or melodramatic over your love for God:) Thanks for sharing.

  12. Carolyn

    I really loved this post! There really are so many quiet, unassuming, simple moments in life that can be filled with beauty and meaning if we slow down enough to see them for what they are.
    I have often heard songs before on the radio or my ipod and imagine them as a soundtrack – but I love that you heard it as a soundtrack for the world and people around you!

  13. Liesl

    I love this post. I have always found a deep spirituality to all kinds of music – it is probably how I pray best!

  14. Kelly the Kitchen Kop

    Jen, you've put into words exactly why I like to listen to Classical music sometimes (never thought I'd say that) – first of all, it relaxes me, but also, the only way I've described it before is that it makes my life feel somehow "grand". 🙂 I think you said it much better!

    Kelly

  15. Susan

    I loved this post. Gladiator is my husband's favorite movie. It is a very powerful movie, as is that song.
    I'm curious as to what else you have on your iPod? I'm always looking for inspiration!

  16. Katherine

    Wonderful reflection! Thanks!

  17. elizabeth

    I say – Amen, Jennifer! This post brought tears to my eyes, because I forget to LIVE, at times. I forget to look to the perspective that the Saints and our God has – on life, us — creation. Oh, it is easier when I am looking at His creation…but not me: created in HIS image!

    God Bless you!!
    (have you ever listened to Keith Green's music?)

  18. AImee

    Great post. When I was a kid I used to wish I could have background music going all them time in my life. I suppose we all wish for that–thus our ubiquitous ipods and earpieces, the grandbabies of my walkman! But I always tend to dismiss it as a little silly–thank you for giving me another way to look at it. Perhaps my dismissive attitude towards the feeling you are describing is just another way of dismissing things as mindane. Going to turn on some music now as I clean out closets 🙂

  19. scmom (Barbara)

    Oh boy, I would hate to hear what soundtrack was playing for me today — something angry, I think. Not good. But, tomorrow I'll try to live to the Gladiator soundtrack. 😉

  20. Anonymous

    My best friend used to say that the reason we make so many mistakes in life is that there's no swelling background music to warn us.

    I always felt she had a good point!

    And today you offer us a wonderful way to view our not-so-pedestrian-afterall lives. Thank you!

    ~ Nona

  21. gls

    This reminded me of an interesting story I heard on the radio in March. I can't recall any names now, and all I recall (perhaps mistakenly) is that the inventor was a grad student at MIT. At any rate, the gadget was an iPod-size mini-computer with a mic and headphone jacks. Fairly typical so far. What it did was astounding. The device takes ambient noises (a fire engine siren, cars honking, the general hustle of urban life), processes them, and turns them into a kind of music that's less musical than ambient music (i.e., the genre) yet much more melodic than the everyday sounds. Some of the samples were fascinating.

    If it ever goes on the market, I'll be the first in line.

  22. Anonymous

    I once had a strange dream that I was floating over people in a park holding some kind of a long colored tube. Whenever I touched someone with the tube this AMAZING music flowed out onto them and they smiled and glowed with joy. The music was so incredible that I went around tapping as many people as I could with that tube.

    My wife and I later determined that night was the night our first child was conceived.

    Quite strange, but soo cool! I figured that I was getting some taste of what it must be like to be an angel – or, ah, something.

    Anyway, the music was incredible. Wish I could remember it.

    My fear is that when the saints look down on me the soundtrack will be from Metalica. Ha ha. God bless you and thanks for posting such a lovely story.

  23. Leaving the Legion

    Fist of all, I love your style. I love reading, but some blogs are so boring. You grasp me.
    Second of all, I share your experience many times of getting caught off guard by the ordinary and finding deeper meaning.

  24. Bill Donaghy

    Beautiful post! I absolutely agree! The saints always hear the Song of Songs playing behind the veil of the everyday, and their hearts swell because of it! AMEN!

  25. Anonymous

    You know what? I was raised Catholic, left the church and have been floundering in Protestant churches ever since. I never liked the "legalism" of the Catholic church nor the veneration of Mary as a sub-deity. But you got me thinking how a lot I turned my back on really makes sense.

    Thanks for reminding me of my Catholic roots and for some awesome blog posts I've read today.

  26. Paul

    Jennifer,

    This is a very late comment to this post but I just had to make it.

    I have used this post very successfully as a “scouts own” service. I used it because most of the Scouts Own services I have put on have been very, well, Catholic. Most of my Scouts are Catholic but when asked to do a service for a larger, more diverse group, I realized I needed something that could speak…or sing….to everyone. This post was a great inspiration and it has yielded much fruit! I still have youth who come up to me and ask me what my soundtrack sounds like today.

    Thanks again for another great post.

    Paul

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