Hello Friends, I write, wondering how today finds each of you. I think most folks with whom I've talked express that their moods and/or stress comes and goes in waves. Some are overwhelmed with work, others boredom; some are overwhelmed by being together all the time, and others are lonely. For the most part, I've been elated to finally have some margins in my over-scheduled life, and embrace a healthier pace and lifestyle. After years of nonstop racing to the finish line of every day, it feels great to have the time to exercise, cook at home, catch up on some projects, and actually spend time with my husband! The last week has been, inexplicably, a bit of a downer for me. I want to come out of this quarantine, whenever that is, healthier and better rested than I started. I can't say I don't have the time now!
Perhaps ironically, what is grating at me is what so many people finds valuable and essential right now: virtual, responsibly distant social events. As an introvert who has found herself in front of people constantly, and as a student who is constantly being graded and assessed, crawling into my turtle shell is immensely appealing. People are different, it's not a right or wrong thing. For my part, I felt defeated when I realized that I had no less than 6 social engagements this past weekend. At the end of the queue was the virtual Lowland Hum concert from CtK's Concert Series. Rick and I absolutely LOVED every minute of their show for us last year (seems like 10 years ago now!). But this Sunday, I felt depleted. I found myself thinking, okay, I'm staff, I need to put a good foot forward. I just don't want to interact anymore. I don't! I'm Zoomed out! I want to eat comfort food, watch a show with my husband, and go to bed at a reasonable hour. Like 7:30. (wink).
But then I tuned in, and listened. Daniel and Lauren are a young married couple whose musical creativity and excellence are matched only by their own calm, warmly inviting demeanors. They are funny and kind. Their pieces are thoughtful and engaging. Within the first minute, I was frustrated with myself for not inviting everyone I know to join in. For myriad reasons, life feels edgy and stressful now, and their music and presence was nothing short of a balm. I realized early on that I was breathing the way I otherwise only might during yoga or rest: slowly, calmly, and deeply, and simply enjoying a feeling of well-being.
While talking and connecting is intrinsic to our humanity and health, there is a large body of evidence growing that treating the physiological symptoms of stress is at least equally, if not more powerful, than are talk therapy or drugs. (See Bessel van der Kolk's excellent book, The Body Keeps the Score - www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/313183/the-body-keeps-the-score-by-bessel-van-der-kolk-md/. Beyond that, the arts, especially music, happen to address the physiological needs in exactly the ways that are therapeutic to stress, even in extreme cases.
Just thinking about their name evokes images of quiet, sprawling country: comfortable, homey, comforting, resonating throughout your being. God's provision comes in so many interesting "packages." Unsurprisingly, they've thought of many creative ways to build you up during this time; not ways to grab life by the horns, but ways to enjoy contentment, and just be. It is well with my soul, indeed.
Visit their website lowlandhum.com for more information; you can stream their music from your service of choice.
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Director of Music and Worship, Christ the King Church Parish