A few weeks ago, I was sitting in Central Park. I needed a time out. And Central Park has often been a place to go, wander around, think, pray, and be surrounded by people yet be utterly alone.
This particular afternoon, I was trying to write in my journal and sort of some worries & concerns as of late. It’s those moments in life where it feels like you have all these puzzle pieces and no box cover to know what the picture is supposed to look like.
I strolled for a bit until I came to a park bench that seemed suitable, not too much in the sun, and not too close to others or activities.
I began to write and pray. But I kept getting distracted. Normally, I could block out the things around me that seek to pull my attention, but not this day.
Why? Because not far from me a man set up and started playing his saxophone. And he was playing Jazz.
I’ll be first to admit I don’t understand jazz (I once took a “Jazz Improv for Guitar” class in college, and when it was my turn to solo, was told I was too rock and roll. Personally, I don’t see that as a problem…) But it seemed like the guy in the park was playing a bunch of random notes. Like he was looking for something, stumbling along.
As he played, I began to imagine he was searching for a melody. Sometimes, he would play sweet notes, other times, sour ones. And in between a lot of noise. No offense to the musician, but often it was what he didn’t play that resonated the most.
I kept trying to pull my attention back to my writing and praying, but like the annoying buzz of a bug, this sax player’s music was incessantly dive bombing me.
Then a realization came.
Life has seasons where it feels like that type of Jazz — stumbling along, searching for the way forward. Trying. Then trying some more. Then stopping and resting. Then playing some more.
Admittedly, I’m more of a melody guy, but I stared seeing the need to be content for even one sweet note, as opposed to a string of them put together.
What I often want is an anthem, but what I can get is one long note ringing out. In music, it’s called a sustain. How appropriate. Sustain me. Bring hope. Rest. Peace. Belief.
In these seasons of life, maybe the key is learning to be content to have that one note song rise up out of us. It might not make the charts, or win awards, but it’s our song to sing. My challenge? Learn to sing it well.