I’ve been playing guitar since about 1969. It was a time when folk music had become popular, led by Pete Seeger and groups like Peter, Paul & Mary. Music with a social message rose to the top with Simon and Garfunkel, and Bob Dylan. Protest marches sang “This land is your land, this land is my land.” It was a time of great turmoil and breaking of barriers, changing society’s norms some for good and some for ill. The turmoil was colored with fear, anger and desperate hope.
Around that time I bought a guitar and learned a few chords. The first occasions where I played and sang were with Vacation Bible School kids, a very uncritical audience. We had a lot of fun together. Over the years I slowly improved my musical skill. When you play a guitar, the simplest way to do it is to strum all or most of the strings at once, and if your left-hand fingers are in the right places, you get a chord, several notes in harmony.
Harmony is beautiful. We don’t need to be technical musicians to enjoy the Pentatonix, a fantastic singing group. Their harmony is marvelous. We don’t need to understand music to enjoy Handel’s Messiah. Harmony just flows into our hearts easily. Harmony occurs when different voices, different pitches, even different syncopations fit together without jarring the senses. Harmony is mathematical. Notes in harmony fit together in mathematical ratios that make sense. There are whole books written about the mathematics of harmony. But I’m more interested in how we experience harmony.
Harmony happens in all sorts of occasions. We see harmony when a couple is dancing with each moving his/her body and feet in a way that they flow along with the music and don’t get in each other’s way. They compliment each other as they move harmoniously. It’s beautiful. Harmony occurs when we work together on a project like a youth work camp. Youth and adults each do their part and the result is someone in need has their house repaired or painted. Sometimes we sweated and swatted mosquitoes during challenging days. But it felt good to be working in harmony, freely giving our time and effort to help improve someone’s life. And when the job was done we felt strangely exhilarated. We experienced harmony.
What is harmony? It seems to be that mysterious relationship that occurs when two or more people, or objects, or elements that are really different fit together in such a way that they become one, and yet at the same time remain distinctly themselves. A good marriage is like that. Sometimes it’s like a dance. Sometimes it’s like a work camp! But when two people put their lives together, complimenting each other, giving and receiving, sometimes working, sometimes playing, sometimes suffering, sometimes enduring, forgiving, hoping, rejoicing, it is like a great symphony in which the deep chords of life resonate through our souls.
We hear a lot about discord in the news or in local gossip. Human conflict is normal and inevitable. We each have our personal needs or desires and when these are threatened we become afraid or perhaps angry. I become less of a person when I am full of fear or anger. On the other hand when fear is replaced by hope, insecurity is replaced by security, doubt is replaced by trust, and selfishness is replaced by love, then harmony begins to reappear, like a gift from God. And life is good.
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear. . . .
We love because he first loved us. ( I John 4:18-19 NIV )