It's 75 degrees outside and pain runs through my body. This is emotional pain like I've never felt in my life. I'm driving up I-10 in Florida from what was my grandparent's house. I've been with my uncle for the last week on an unexpected trip to help my grandmother brace for the impact of divorce.
While my uncle and I drove down together, he's stayed behind as there is uncertainty around grandma's stability when we started packing to head back to Memphis. So I'm alone in a red Volvo on the 13 hour drive home when I begin to process the past week. The lawyer, the counselors, the endless scanning of documents, the friends, the family and the tears. Oh, the tears.
After 56 years of marriage and a family so woven into this patriarchy, it's all unbound in less than two years. I keep thinking this can't be happening. How could it? Not us. We can't be that family. Can we? We're stronger than this. Aren't we? It's all so selfish but it's what everyone in our family has always known to be good and true and now it's over. Dead. Gone.
I'm grasping more than ever for understanding and love that can fill a hole wider than I thought existed in me. I'm searching for God in all of it. Then this song comes on the radio in the background. The DJ of the most recent FM station I've been able to tune into talks the song up as one that's jumping up the charts.
"Here's "Manifesto" by The City Harmonic on 97.1, The Love of K" (or something to that effect).
All I hear is God. Drenched into every sound. It's poignant and loud. Beautiful and noisy. It's what I need. Like a cup of water in the middle of the desert. I realize that I don't know who this band is but I need more of what they're offering. The Volvo doesn't have an auxilary port so I pull over and dig out my headphones. I look The City Harmonic up on Spotify and find a single album. Introducing the City Harmonic. There are six songs. I immediately press play.
The song opens with an orchestra getting in pitch and the conductor tapping their baton on the podium to open the album.
Tears begin to fall almost immediately.
"I Wonder" questions the love of God. It's size and how we see it in our life. Everything hits home when gets to the second verse.
I see it in the pain of the widowed wife.
In death defeated where he found true life.
I see the love of God and I feel alive.
I wonder, I wonder.
These words are what I'm searching for. Finding God's love in the pain of life. I drink it up. Then comes track two.
This is the song that led me to seek this album out. It says so much about who Christ is and what I believe. Even in darkness there is light.
We believe in the one true God.
We believe in Father Spirit Son.
We believe that good has won.
It's hard not to sing the chorus at the top of your lungs and lose yourself in Him. The tears haven't stopped and I continue to belt out garbled lyrics with lots of AMEN.
I lift my eyes up,
In these days of trouble.
Will my help come from You?
And if I stumble,
Will You pick me up?
What else could a father do?
The words are crafted as if they're for me in this struggle. Then the beat picks up and the second verse opens.
I lift my heart up,
Whether it’s whole or broken,
Good God I know You’re gonna work it out.
What more can I do in this moment? I can't handle the weight I'm carrying. I'm so lost in this music that been carrying me for the last 13 minutes and I've lost control of emotion. It just keeps pouring out of me. Everything I've bottled up over the last 7 days since I found out what's been going on and what the outcome will be is just spilling over.
Coming My Way
"Coming My Way" soothes and calms. It's a beautiful ballad to God and talks about the journey home to heaven and finding heaven here on Earth in Him. I calm ever so slightly.
A simple guitar riff, a drum beat and into the first verse.
I am a man who built his house on sand.
I am a thief upon a cross.
I’m just like Judas, that sorry fool.
Who can’t be glad for what he’s got.
In all of the pain, these words pierce my soul. I've been angry and bitter at the circumstances and choices that have led to what is unthinkable to me. And yet, I'm no better. I'm fallen and failing each and every day. The chorus repeats that God is good, God is great and God is love. And I am...
I am a man who has been bought by love.
I am a man who sold his soul.
I’m like the man, who when he found his pearl.
He gave up everything he owned.
Through His grace I'm redeemed and I am love. Love works.
This song sweeps me straight off of my feet and I listen to it again. And again. And again. It's such a beautiful portrait of forgiveness and the redemption that comes through His unending mercy. This is instantly my favorite track on the album. The tears continue to flow as I realize how broken I am in my own walk and how easily I've judged others throughout this ordeal.
So go on sing, sing, all of heaven and earth.
But don’t just sing, be and be every word.
This is my favorite line from "What I Want". It asks us to step out on our faith and walk the talk. To be the change that God calls us to be on this Earth. This is my constant struggle. To fearlessly be who I'm called to be.
I contemplate the experience I've just had. Through these six songs being played a few times over I've given up my burden and opened myself up to God in a way that I've been missing since I was in college. This album is now permanently bound to this specific moment in my life. The ghost of my burden is forever reflected in this album for me. And yet I can't recommend Introducing The City Harmonic more highly.
It's been roughly two years since I jumped into that red Volvo and this album still brings tears to my eyes when it comes on. This past week was the second Thanksgiving without my grandfather present and it has left an impression on our family tradition. As we grandkids grow up and start having our own kids the weight of the thing still lingers. It's been 7 months since I originally shared this as a journal entry. I was too scared to put these words on Course Code directly in April so I buried it in a Day One entry but this is the force that music can have on a person's soul and the fear is overcome by it. I hope that someone might find a similar strength from these six songs.