August 16, 2014

I’ll Be a Tuba for God. ~ Jean Gendreau


“Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace.”

Can I be a harp or a violin? Or how about a shehnai in a Hindu temple or the goose-bump-making long horn or dungchen of the Tibetan Buddhist monks?

To some, this prayer feels too “Hallmark card,” like choirs of angels singing on clouds. What if I have an obnoxious boss? What about abusers and bullies? What if I talk too loud? What if I make mistakes? Being used by divine spirit sounds sweet, but what about real life?

What does it mean to be an instrument? How can divine spirit flow through me?

Here are four steps to becoming an instrument of God’s peace:

1. We must be willing.

Intention really matters. Don’t worry about what your role is. Just make the offer to the universe.

2. We must start as beginners, musicians who practice until they disappear.

We start with scales and move on to songs. We practice again and again until we forget we are playing. Eventually we become the melody itself—but not at first.

In real life, this means regular effort: It is meditation and prayer, even when you are busy, especially when you are stressed. These skills take time to acquire, and in the beginning it’s just hard to do. There is no short cut, and there is no genius. Child prodigies do not know how to play on the first day, but they do love to practice.

Eventually, often after years of practice, the musician forgets to think. We disappear. The song moves through us. There is a synergy. The song is us, but it is also much greater than we are.

Practice is the key, patient daily practice. If you need help learning to meditate, contact a Buddhist sangha near your home or find a meditation site online. There are thousands of free teachers waiting for you.

3. We learn to resonate with the universe.

A good instrument is responsive. Maybe it remembers being a tree and dancing in the wind; maybe it wants to make people sigh or laugh. We learn to stop trying so hard. We learn to relax. We vibrate. If we sense a peaceful, loving truth, we move with it like the soft weeds that float with a river’s currents.

A Stradivarius is so sensitive that it responds to the tiniest change of touch. When we resonate with divine energy, the song changes and achieves a new level. In fact that’s what makes an instrument good.

The resonance is what we yearn for. We practice our scales. We sit in regular meditation. Eventually we learn to sense subtle energies that we never imagined. Our deepest essence resonates with the divine rhythm. They beat in perfect synchrony like two drums, millions of miles apart, beating as a single instrument.

4. We come to cherish the song because it saves the world.

A truth comes out of the divine and moves through the instrument to float out into the world as a song. That connection, that pathway, is a thread as strong as a hawser. It might be a life rope for someone who is drowning. It carries hope and love.

The divine song is not just a sweet whisper—not at all. A kazoo can be an instrument of the divine. So can a tuba.

Think of a bright autumn day at the local college, when the marching band explodes out of the gate. The tubas in the back row boom out the bass, and everyone in the stadium roars out the song. People laugh and relax. That fun and happiness is the divine song.

Shouts of encouragement at a marathon are the song. The soft voice of the nurse when you come out of anesthesia is the song. The bus driver’s patient expression while a foreigner counts out coins is the song. The nurse’s aid patiently wiping an old man’s bottom is the song.

A starving child tasting warm buttery rice sings of divine truth. The silence of no bombing sings the song. An understanding glance of support sings the song.

Being silent instead of judging sings the song.

It’s the bonds of connection and love between us that save lives and give hope. All of us can be instruments of God’s peace, every day.

We resonate with the divine because each of us carries the truth of divine essence in every cell of our bodies. That’s why the resonance happens—because it is love recognizing itself, singing to itself.

That’s when we understand that, difficult as it is, we have to disappear. We have to give up the idea that we are in charge. Somehow we have to move through our days as divine instruments with nothing to do but sing.

So we practice our scales for months or years. We learn to discern whispers of subtle truths. We learn how to forget ourselves. We learn how to disappear.

The Sufi poet Hafiz says, “I am a hole in a flute that the Christ’s breath moves through—Listen to this music.” (translated by Daniel Ladinsky, The Gift, Penguin Compass, 1999, p. 203.)

Becoming empty, we welcome divine energy. We become instruments of spirit.

It’s dawn for the world. We sit in the grass. Spirit moves through us. There is a first note and then a second. The universe is singing. It is a song that sings itself, beyond thought and beyond time, and we are the instruments.



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Editor: Travis May

Photo: Wiki Commons

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