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Finding God in the Prayer of Music

Blog by Sr. Pat Dual, OP

Not long ago, I read an article that reminded me of how the arts, such as poetry, writing, dancing or music often allow us to experience God in different and profound ways.  The article started me thinking about how music has always been a way that helps me more deeply experience the presence of God.  I have many memories of being in the parish where I grew up, St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Norfolk, Virginia and feeling deeply connected to God as our gospel choir ministered to the congregation.   Many times I recall myself and others meditating, standing, clapping or lifting our hands during a song being sung by the choir.

Gospel music deepens my experience of the Divine, but other Christian music also speaks to my spirit. One such song that seems to always move my spirit is “Holy Now” by Peter Mayer.  No matter when I hear it, there is a sense of reverence and divine connection that stirs within. One would think that you could not forget those things that enhance your relationship with God.  But during my most recent retreat, I was reminded that in the busyness of life, I had unintentionally lost sight of something that is a special part of my relationship with God—prayer through music.

As I began my retreat, I realized my words of prayers seemed routine. I found myself asking, “Where are you, O Holy One?”  Perhaps your spirit has never been in such a place and perhaps you have never asked such questions. But I was in such a place, where my words of prayer seemed to hang in the air, “stuck” between heaven and earth, when the thought of “praying with music” suddenly occurred to me. It was not a new idea for me, I simply had not thought of it for a while. So I gathered my headphones and cell phone and headed outside to a beautiful quiet spot and proceeded to listen to one of my favorites, “Holy Now.” As I listened to the song, it felt as if a floodgate had opened within and that God and I were, once again, “in sync.”   All of us have experienced times of deep connection with God.  For me, this was one of those special times of connection.

On my last full day of the retreat, I was quietly reflecting on all that had happened during the retreat, when suddenly a flash of red startled me as it flew across my line of vision and disappeared in a tree. Excited, I was hoping the red bird would come back—a little slower next time—so that I could really see him. Well, guess what, that red bird flew low across my line of vision three times before he finally went on his way. As I sat there thinking how lucky I was to be in the right place at the right time, I recalled four of my favorite lines in the song, “Holy Now.”

This morning outside I stood,
Saw a little red wing bird
Shining like a burning bush
and singing like a scripture verse…

The experience became a confirmation for me of God’s presence during the retreat and reminded me of the deep prayer connection with God that sometimes happens for me through music.

What about you?  Do you have a unique way of prayer that deepens your experience of prayer and listening to God? As you ponder these questions later, perhaps you might wish to enjoy the “Holy Now” Youtube video using this link:

Is God possibly asking you to consider “more” for your life, perhaps as a Dominican Sister of Peace?  Explore the possibility at our next Come and See weekend on September 7-9, 2018 in St. Catharine, KY.

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