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The One About the Secret Song

Laura is about as attention-seeking as a hermit.

Think Kim Kardashian. And then think the exact opposite.

Yes, she does have a Facebook account but she actually knows everyone on it, and posts only occasionally, and purposefully. And though she photoshops for a living, her own pictures are exactly as they were shot.

Laura is modest to a fault.

Think Donald Trump. And then think the exact opposite.

Yes, she got a first-class degree from one of the top 3 universities in the world; yes, she sings like a lark; and yes, she bakes the best biscotti this side of Tuscany, but you’d probably have to inject her with truth serum to get her to tell you any of that.

Laura is what you might call a private person.

Think Miley Cyrus. And then think the exact opposite.

She’s not closed or cold or secretive but she is careful who she shares her vulnerabilities with. So, what she was about to do was not what she would normally do.

It was March 23rd 2020, the day the coronavirus lockdown was announced. An idea had been simmering in her mind since the virus had begun to spread in the UK. How, she wondered, as the number of cases rose, as the news from other countries grew grimmer, as anxiety began to rise, even among her less at-risk, twenty-something, thirty-something peers, how might she use her social media to bless her friends, particularly as they were so varied? Friends from primary school, secondary school, and uni; friends from choirs and ensembles; friends from church and travels abroad; and friends from just being alive for thirty years? And so varied in values and beliefs: friends of different faiths, friends indifferent to faith, friends disdainful of faith?

And it came to her.

A few years earlier, she’d been going through a difficult time. Not depressed, exactly, but sad, anxious, fretful, raw. And at that time she wondered what she could do to help herself. As it happened, she’d been studying the psalms in a group and the words of Psalm 42 and 43 became significant to her:

‘My tears have been my food
Day and night,
While people say to me all day long,
“Where is your God?”’ (42:3)

In particular, she’d been struck by the way the writer not only named his bewildered distress:

‘Why my soul are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?’ (42:5)

but told himself what to do about it:

‘Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him, my Saviour and my God.’

And so Laura decided to try to teach her own downcast soul to restore itself. She began to write music for the words to help her focus. A song emerged in a classical style – for piano and soprano. She showed it to almost no one. She’d only written it for herself, and she’s a private person, after all.

And then came the virus. And along with that common threat came a common anxiety, there in the air, and in almost every interaction. Laura realised that she had something in her hand, something that might be helpful to others, a comfort with which she, in a time of trouble, had been comforted (see 2 Corinthians 1:3-5). So, she prayed, and on March 23rd, private person though she is, she posted this, and her song:

“Soooo… many of you will know that I like writing, but I very rarely pluck up the courage to share anything with anyone… but if ever there was a moment to share this, this is it.

It’s based on Psalms 42 & 43 (go and read them!). I wrote it a couple of years ago when I was feeling sad and anxious as a way of teaching my heart to hope in God – because music has a particular way of reaching our hearts and sticking in our minds. It’s pretty rough around the edges, but I pray it might be a comfort to some of you, as it has been to me.”

Laura was stunned by the response. It wasn’t primarily, or even secondarily, people’s appreciation of the song that hit her: “beautiful”, “lovely”, “lush”, “awesome”, “can I have the sheet music?” No, it wasn’t that. It wasn’t just the appreciation of how timely her decision was. It was the positivity of so many people, not only those who shared her faith, but those who’d been indifferent to God, or disdainful of faith. Opening her heart had opened a door.

Who knows what treasures God has forged in our pasts that lie quietly, biding their time, waiting, like the book of the law in Josiah’s reign, for the moment to be brought out and plant comfort, hope, strength, laughter, peace, faith, life in the soil of another soul?

 

***

What strikes you about this story? What biblical connections do you see?

Is there a way you can comfort others with the comfort you have received? What’s in your hand?

‘Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Saviour and my God.’

PSALM 42:5

 


 

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