No matter what language barriers, music has the ability to bring people together. I had a most lovely experience on Thursday evening. As a family we go into a local hostel weekly to visit some of our church. They are in Alice because they are not well enough to go home and they miss their families and community greatly. We are supposed to go to bring them encouragement, but it is us every week who leave uplifted. The joy their faces show when they greet us is lovely… and this week, we brought in the guitar and djembe (African Drum) and gave it our best shot to sing a song in Pitjantjara. As I stumbled through with the chords and words, I could hear them begin to join in and sing with me. Only a couple at first and then more and more residents began to join in. Even people who do not attend our church came and grabbed a chair and sat near.
When we finished the song, Ben asked if they would like to sing more and if they could teach us. So one of the ladies went and got an old hymnal and so we began to sing. The harmonies were beautiful and I at times had no idea what I was singing but I didn’t dare stop as one of the ladies was watching me carefully and if I stopped she would point to where we were up to and nod until I started again. Do you know how long some of their words are :-).
The songs were peace to my heart and sitting on that grass in the middle of the hostel grounds next to some beautiful sisters I understood why we were in Alice.
To get back our song.
And to help others find theirs.
Now, we were literally singing but I began to see that “our song” is a picture of our spiritual and mental wellbeing as well.
I was at a concert once in the Adelaide Town Hall watching the Soweto Gospel Choir and they were explaining how Africans sing through all occasions. They sing when they are happy, they sing when they are down, they sing when they are in chains, they sing when they are free.
If you can steal the song in people’s heart then you have defeated them. If they can sing, even in their darkest hour, then they are strong and no matter how much you bind them, you will never break their spirit. I think of the story in the Bible of Paul and Barnabas in chains and how they sung praises. They were not broken. They refused for their song to be taken away from them, and so no matter what they were going through they were conquerors.
Many people in Alice Springs have lost their song. Indigenous and non-indigenous alike. They have lost touch with their Creator who gave each a song to sing and one that is sung over them. Imagine if we can be vessels to release people to hear and see, not just physically but spiritually as well. I have seen God change lives through His Son Jesus and the work of the Holy Spirit, these people have got their song back.
I want to never dull my song again and I want to be a vessel that allows others to find theirs again.
The ladies that we sang with would be passed by and thought of by many as the poor of world with nothing much to give. But to me they are possibly some of the richest, for most of them, have not lost their song. You need only look in their eyes to see that.