I’ve just discovered Spotify. In our age of galloping technology is this is akin to marvelling that Columbus has just landed on the East Coast of America and is wondering where he can buy pastrami on rye. Google tells me that Spotify first launched on 23rd April 2006. I got married on March 18th that year so maybe I was just diverted at the time.
Anyway, some of our adult kids visited this weekend and in their loving indulgence of the old folks, they brought us up to speed with what is happening in the modern world. We knew about the TV and the microwave – we’d even cracked Netflix and WhatsApp – but the world of music streaming had passed us by. They had us downloaded, uploaded, and logged on within minutes over several pints at the local hostelry and I was immediately connected to the infinite world of musical possibility.
I am still drunk with wonder at having this cosmic collection available to me at the touch a screen. When you have been buying CDs from Amazon at £12.99 a pop, these are treasures beyond imagination. I dip my toe into meditative Beethoven, then again into sacred choral music, have a bit of a blast with Muse, a nostalgic trip down ‘Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.’ There’s almost too much choice and I am immobile, a rabbit in headlights wondering where to go next. But then Spotify takes me by the hand and offers me a playlist based on my choices or the time of day and absolves me from having to make decisions.
And look – if you know all this and are thinking ‘Where has she been living for the past fifteen years?’ bear with. Just call me a late developer.
And it occurred to me as my musical world exploded in glorious rainbow technicolour that this feels a bit like how I am experiencing faith or God or whatever words I try to use which never come near adequately expressing what I think can only be described as mystery.
You see I’ve always avoided openly identifying too much as a Christian because it’s felt too hard, too complicated, too condemning, too scary. I have lots of bits of belonging floating around my head from my childhood in the church but like pieces of a jigsaw muddled on the floor, they come together in the wrong place and don’t make a coherent picture. I’ve never even been able to find all the edges.
Take reading the Bible for instance. I’ve always been wary of Bible Studies as everyone sat around with a mug of tea and a gingernut. Earnest well-meaning good people would expound on the finer points of Leviticus and, weary after a day at work I would long to go home and watch EastEnders, castigating myself silently for not feeling more excited.
But things change. People change I am changing. My priest-friend introduced me to Tom Wright who has translated the New Testament into language which is not only accurate, but understandable. And what’s more has helpfully written a short explanation of every few verses which means that Christians who would normally sit at the back so they would not have to answer questions (like me) can get involved.
I’m working my way through John’s gospel at the moment and dare I say – enjoying it. The introduction says that through reading this gospel ‘countless people have found that the figure of Jesus becomes real for them...full of warmth and light and promise.’
I want some of that.
Warmth. Light. Promise.
And through my initial explorations of the Third Order, tiptoeing into the shallows of what I hope and expect is a deep running river, I am encountering a way of being in God which feels entirely authentic and real. I can safely begin to let go of the shore and trust myself to the depths. And for the first time in my life, I feel as though I could properly belong in every sense of the word.
And, you know, there is no charge, no fee for all this – it’s there because it’s a gift and I can’t do anything to deserve it or make it happen. I just have to be ready to receive.
Even my Spotify is on the house. My generous stepson added me to his account.
Thank you, George!
And thank you God.