Music and the existential

comments 2
the post-God side

I don’t have the words for describing this feeling.   Metaphysical, existential even.  It’s like speaking a language when the experience exists outside communication.  But I’m going to try.

I’d like to believe that instilled within all of us is a detector for that which is especially captivating.   Moments and experiences that are so filled with love and beauty that it evokes unexplained emotions.

Some call the experience a spiritual one.   Actually, most people probably do.   I don’t, but I do find great meaning in it.   And maybe some people are more sensitive than others.  But for me, the emotions are powerful and paradigm shifting.

I was taken aback that these feelings not only remain after coming out of faith, but are even enhanced without it.  Muted not by blurry false truths or judgmental lenses, I am able to feel fully without guilt or imposed agenda.  I cry when my children grab my hand to dance with me.  I cry when I see them bouncing on my husband’s shoulders.    I cry when I hear them laughing and playing freely.   I am speechless when I see the sun shining through the leaves.  I sit in awe at the mist rising above the forest.  I started sobbing when I watched the eclipse over the ocean this past July.

But music.  Music……

Music has been a great avenue for me of detecting and practicing this intensity.   As a Christian, worshipping through music powerfully erupted this spiritual intensity.   But now, it’s effects are now longer bound by dogma or doctrine.

I compose music improvised at the piano and can sit for hours.   It sets me free.  But more than that, it sets the music free.

Michaelangelo said that he would see his sculptures already in the rock and he was just setting them free as he carved them.  This is how I feel about music.

I hear music all the time.  The song exists around me continually, like oxygen.  And the urge, a compulsion even, to set the music free through my playing is STRONG.  But, I’m a working mama to two children under the age of 4 and a business owner so I never have time to play as much as I like.

And then I hear songs like this (starting at 3:20).  And yesterday, this (or if you haven’t seen The Greatest Showman, watch this version instead so no spoiler).  And my reaction to this music is extreme gratitude.. Gratitude that someone has set the music free and the responsibility is not just on me.  I’m not capable to do what these musicians do, so my gratitude increases at their abilities.  And I cry at the beauty that I would be able to witness this music.

I used to believe that it was okay if I didn’t play as much as I needed, because in heaven I could play for all eternity.  Now — heaven is here.  And fellow musicians have enabled me to fall on the ground on my knees in tears because of the emotion their music evokes within me.

I realize this sounds crazy.  But it’s like the altar and throne still exist, but instead of worshipping god, I worship that which is beautiful.  And I am unable not to.



The Author

I'm a closet atheist christian missionary. Paradigm shifts happen frequently for those who allow themselves to think critically about currently held beliefs and openly about new ones. I’ve developed the skill, or perhaps addiction, for change but the community around me is slow to catch up -- and would damn me if they knew where I stood.


  1. When I was a churchgoer, it was mostly about music for me. At one point I was in the youth choir, the regular choir, the handbell choir, and a youth group that sang at the drop of a hat. I learned to play some guitar so the youth group could sing when our regular guitarist wasn’t around.

    When I left religion behind, I couldn’t leave music. It’s my stress outlet and I get antsy if I don’t sing regularly. So I sing with the best community chorus in my area. (Tonight we are rehearsing opera choruses with our local symphony for a concert Saturday.) it’s funny, though, that it’s rare that I sit down to just listen to music. I rarely go to a concert unless I’m in it. I need to be making the music.


  2. Gorf says

    I want to hear you play the piano again! You played for me very briefly on one occasion, but that was when you were still healing. My daughter (and yours) and I can dance while you play… 😉


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