Yesterday we went to the ordination of Reverend Greg Pelley at the Well Springs congregation where he has been an intern minister the last several years. The service was incredible moving and touching and I was so happy to be present and a part of that joy. I was brought to tears several times by the inspiring words that were spoken and the love that was palpable as three congregations, a score of ministers, and friends and family were there to watch and celebrate Greg crossing his threshhold.
What I really want to talk about though was that there was a rock band singing Bruce Springsteen and Stevie Wonder and the like, joyous worship songs, with the words scrolling along on the screen high above the stage. Everyone was invited to stand and clap along and sing. The congregation’s mission is something about igniting the spark of the soul, and they abide by the Walt Whitman poem with the line “I sing the body electric”.
I know a LOT of congregations do this type of worship, at least I’ve seen it on TV and in the movies. I think I may have even been to a “Modern Worship Service” with a rock band many years ago with my cousin. But this was my first time really experiencing it in recent memory.
It was something to witness, all the energy and enthusiasm and joy everyone was experiencing as they stood and swayed and clapped and sang. But really, I didn’t get it. Worse than not getting it, it really made me uneasy and even angry to a degree. Not angry in a way that had an object of my anger, but angry in a way that put me in a sour mood, that made me want to escape. In the past I think maybe I would have assumed that I have walls/barriers put up between my emotions and the world, that I was being antisocial and just needed to get over it and clap along, God dammit. Let my emotions free. Sing the body electric. Be joyous. Become the music.
Well, I dunno. I think I process things differently. I am a musician and improviser and one who specializes in INTROSPECTIVE music. Introspective music played beautifully by others brings me to tears. I love joyous music as much as the next person, but I want to sit and let it wash over me. I want to close my eyes and feel the music pulsing inside of me. I want to experience the joy and freedom radiating from my soul, and sit quietly watching it, absorbing it.
I am a quintessential introvert in this respect. I think maybe what was making me a little angry was that I felt like it was being dictated to me how I was supposed to worship, how I was supposed to experience the music.
Well, I guess the main thing I gathered was that this congregation was not for me. I don’t want to be a part of everyone else’s pulsing energy. Not extroverted energy anyway. Give me intense gorgeous introspective peaceful loving pulsing energy any day and I will return it. Shout for joy at me and I will turn into a turtle inside of her shell.
Does that make me a spoilsport?
p.s. I don’t like to stand and sway and clap at rock concerts either, but I do love the music! But, really, can you sit down so I can see the stage? (LOL)