Friday, June 30, 2006

Playing the Silence

Mr. Pete, the Drum Man, is back for Vacation Bible School - and the kids are thrilled! They get to play on different sizes of drums, and try to learn something about rhythm. Perhaps not so surprising - the girls are seem interested in the different 'tones' the drums make; the boys just want to be the loudest!!!

This is Mr. Pete's ministry. As he exposes kids to the sound of the drums, their texture, their tones, he also exposes them to the gospel. He talks about how the kids (and the lucky adults who are with them) become a part of a community: the Drum Circle. Every drum has a different 'voice' and every voice is important to the circle. Every drum has a part, and if one part makes a mistake, the next drum or the circle brings us back onto the rhythm. He teaches them about beats, and about the sounds that can be made.

But Pete also teaches them about silence. In the teaching of a particular rhythm, he puts in a measure of silence. Boom, boom-boom, boom, boom-boom, silence, boom is the rhythm. And he has us hold our hands up in the air to play the silence. And Pete believes, as I think Jesus does, that silence is the hardest note to play - on any instrument: drums, piano, voice, life. But the silence is as important as all the sounds we make, and Pete wants the kids to listen to the sound that the silence canc reate.

Some people think that Jesus went away from the crowds and the disciples to recharge his batteries, to get some rest, to take a retreat, to be closer to God, to pray. All good and commendable choices, which few of us do ourselves. Me, I think he went away to listen to the silence he was trying to play in his heart.

We know how to be loud, we know how to soften our voices. We know how to argue, and we know how to whisper. We know how to talk and talk and talk. We know how to use words to intimidate, to manipulate, to criticize; we know how to play our voices so people will feel sorry for us, or love us, or want to rescue us.

But when do we learn to play the silence?

(c) 2006 Thom M. Shuman

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

As a musician, as well as a worshiper, I love this idea. Let me give you another concept to go with it. Sometimes the silence is what sets off the drumbeats to emphasize them, and sometimes it's what gives us space to hear God's message. When you add harmony to the rhythmn, though, the silence also serves to permit (and emphasize) a change of course. I learned this when I sang a Bruckner piece in a large, acoustically live church, and finally realized why the composer had marked the music G(rand) P(ause) in one place. With it, we had glory; without it, we would have had terrible chaos as the two chords fought each other amid the echoes.