The music sounded different that morning in England. Maybe I was overtired, maybe too exposed. I felt wound up like a toy in the way that new places heighten our sense of awareness, raw in the way that travel peels back your skin.
There was nothing special about the music, not really. Some familiar hymns, sung by ordinary voices in British accents, their notes jumping from their tongues and hopping around the room, only, and always, to land on my heart. And so though the music was nothing special, the church no cathedral, I stood in my row in a silent chaos. My hands fumbling around for a tissue, my eyes the overflow of a heart too full, and my heart aching in gratitude, pleading that this was too much.
This ordinary looking building with these mediocre singers was the place where, nearly thirty years before, my father first met the Lord. On an ordinary day of an ordinary week, my dad did a very unordinary thing, for him anyway, and went to church. And in this ordinary building, something extraordinary took hold of him and rattled the cages of his soul until he, forever, was anything but ordinary. Thirty years later, I came back to that place with him and my brother to worship and give thanks, for his beautiful life and the way it’s shaped mine. I thought, as we worshiped, of what it will be like to stand one day in life eternal, still next to my father and brother.
And in that moment, amid the chorus of a mediocre worship song, my heart was swelling, expectant to burst, gratitude sprung up from a grace underserved that threatened to knock me off my feet, as I could only pray that this was too much. Too much joy, too much hope, too much kindness for my raw, exposed heart to embrace. I felt so small and so darn loved by a force as big as the sky, and I thought the compassion would, quite literally, knock me off my feet.
This moment, I think, is one of the closest things I’ve experienced to true worship.