Power in a Melody

I know this might sound morbid, but it isn’t meant to be. I have found THE song that I want played at my memorial service. It is called Baptism by pianist Paul Cardall

When I write, music is always playing in the background to facilitate my creative process. The type of music varies on the tenor of the writing. There is the romantic playlist, the classic rock playlist and the dance playlist. However much of the music that vibrates through my head comes from the soundtracks to movies. Inception, Black Hawk Down, Lord of the Rings, Batman Begins, Titanic.

Music moves me. Especially instrumental pieces. 

Fourteen years ago, I purchased the instrumental album entitled FREEDOM by Michael W. Smith. It was an amazing experience and a memory that will always remain with me the first time those notes emerged from my car speakers! When I listened, images started to appear in my head—not just random images but an actual story. As the next song played, the story continued. And that process went all the way through the last and 12th song. 

To say I was dumbfounded would be mild. My mouth was gapping open. It was as if the top of my head had been opened up and that story just dropped in! Oh, and there were NO lyrics.

Uncertain if I could repeat the experience, I listened to the entire album again. There was no way to take any written notes as I was driving. As the music played again—same story, same images only with more detail. It was astounding!

Because this was a faith based story, I approached the pastor of the church I was attending at the time to discuss it with her. She was excited and told me to go for it. THE FREEDOM PROJECT was born. What an exhilarating and meticulous task it was to get the images from my head down onto paper so I could communicate and teach over fifty volunteers how to perform what turned into a stage play. 

I had to pinch myself quite often to make sure I wasn’t dreaming! It was a huge undertaking with no budget but tireless positive and encouraging individuals willing to come to long rehearsals, wardrobe fittings, and memorize their stage movements. Not to mention all the behind-the-scenes people who ran sound, mastered lighting, sewed costumes, created set backdrops and props, provided food and beverages, and promoted the production.

As I sat and watched the first performance in 2001 and the subsequent two others in 2002 and 2004, I was moved to tears. As were several other audience members. I knew at that point that for some people, music holds unmistakable power to initiate meaningful connections. The entire performance (about 40 minutes) had no lines of dialogue (except for one at an unexpected and impactful moment). The story was told through the songs and the character’s actions that were cued off of changes in the music. 

The experience of creating THE FREEDOM PROJECT, coordinating and directing the entire production, and seeing how the result touched so many lives will be engrained in my heart and mind forever. And it pushed me forward with confidence to pursue other creative endeavors.

So back to my memorial service. I discovered Paul Cardall’s song Baptism a few years back. The thing that I absolutely love about this piece is how it feels representative of life. Again, it is purely an instrumental piece so no lyrics. 

The repeating sections remind me of how life is a series of small expeditions making up one long journey. From early childhood, to adolescence, to young adulthood, to middle age, to our golden years, and finally on to our final season. 

And all of these life expeditions are broken down even more to jaunts or perhaps pilgrimages. Although at times we fall into routines with our families, our work lives, our social situations…we can always count on those circumstances changing. Sometimes for the better, sometimes not. But things come and go. This song reminds me of that. A voyage always comes to an end where there is something new to replace it and the melody begins again.

Paul Cardall’s music evokes emotion deep within me. If you have something to reflect upon, perhaps a big decision or a difficult situation, listen to his beautiful musical creations. Allow those notes to touch your heart, your soul.

Towards the very end of the song, the music slows slightly as we also slow at the end of our lives. It is still beautiful just as we are beautiful at every stop on this journey. I believe that the melody of our heart does not die. It continues long beyond the time our frail and mortal bodies pass from this earth. Our souls live on. 

Loved ones: When the day comes that I leave this world behind, you will know what melody to play at my service. For certain, I will be smiling knowing the next exciting journey is about to begin.

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