Jellyfish: Sing Louder

by MitchellRichards

(I am not a music expert by any means, I tried learning to play guitar a couple of times but with no success. So if I use a wrong word or term here, please put down your stones and forgive me.)

In my brief and semi-illustrious guitar career, I did pick up on a few things: chords. You put your fingers on certain strings and on certain frets and you give it a little strum and boom…you have chords. The same goes for piano, certain fingers on the white keys, others on the black keys, and boom…you have chords.

And the weird thing about chords is that you know when you hit them. If your hand is just right, and each finger is where it’s supposed to be, when you strum it just makes sense. The noise emitted makes sense. It is pleasant to the ear. One with no knowledge of how the strings and the frets work cannot simply pick up a guitar and start strumming and expect “Stairway To Heaven” to come floating out of the amplifier. A child cannot bang on a piano and expect Mozart.

But this makes me wonder…why? Why is it that when I make my hand all cramped up to make a G chord, it sounds right but if one finger is in the wrong place the whole chord sounds wrong? Who figured all of this out any ways? That some patterns make more sense than others? That some noise is pleasing to the ear while other noise isn’t? Who strummed a harp for days on end, tuning and breaking strings, to get it just right?

Let me allow you in on a little secret: in the Kingdom of God, there is no such thing as off key.

Things like rhythm and music make sense because we have always had things like rhythm and music. Chords sound “right” because we’ve been using the same chords for hundreds of years. I was at a Oklahoma City Thunder game a few weeks ago, and in a crucial moment of the game everyone rose to their feet and began clapping in unison. Everyone in the arena was on the same page…CLAP….CLAP….CLAP….

Except for the woman in the row below me, who somehow was clapping way off beat. It was more like…CLAPclap.ClaP……..CLAP…CLAP.

It drove me nuts…until I saw how much fun she was having. It made me realize that no matter how off beat you are, there is no rhythm in the Kingdom (or in this case, rhythm is not needed in the Thunder-dome). In his song “Bubble Toes”, Jack Johnson uses the phrase, “move like a jelly fish, rhythm is nothing”.

We all have a song to sing, a story to tell if you will, in the Kingdom of God. Some make no sense like Arcade Fire makes no sense to me. Some sound like a dive bar’s karaoke super star. Some are a gentle humming of a mother as she rocks her baby to sleep. Some are screaming, others are more like a musical. Some are like a depressing country song, and others a dance number. Some require the choir, while others are to be sang alone looking out an open window.

But your meaning here, your purpose in life or whatever else you want to call it, is your song. It’s yours to sing. And when you sing it, sing bravely because no notes are out of tune, no beat is out of rhythm. We must sing in the meadows, and we must sing in the dark alleys. In the caves and in the streams. Whether we are alone or together, we must sing.

And no matter how ashamed of your song you are, when you begin to sing and begin to come out of your cave, you begin to hear the songs of others from the caves beside you. And for once, you may see that your song makes sense. Yours may be a lament as your neighbors are praise, but the more you sing the more you realize that we are all singing a little off key and a little off beat.

And in the climax of the song, the part where all of the anger and joy clash together, we realize we have been singing the same song together all along, and that it doesn’t matter how off key we are. Because in the Kingdom of God, we all are singing and there is no such thing as off key. We are all moving in the ocean like the jellyfish without rhythm, swept away in grace and peace and community. The lady clapping away in the stands is perfectly out of rhythm with the rest of us, but that just means she’s right on time.

We are all singing the same song.

Sing louder, let the others around us recognize the tune to the song of their own hearts. Sing louder, bring comfort to those who need to hear. Sing louder, so that the young and the old can finally sing the same song. Sing louder, because the tired need rest. Sing louder, because it is the song of the Kingdom…every note and non-note, every chord and non-chord alike…it is our Song.