How sweet the sound
I once was lost
But now I’m found.
The thump of the bass drum interrupts my train of thought as it echoes inside my chest. I want to sing along, but at this point, I cannot help but spend this time with myself in my head. I have managed to find my place in the nosebleeds. I can’t see a damn thing, but I don’t mind. In fact, I prefer it. Back here, I am a spectator rather than a partaker; a fly on the wall, safely tucked away from the inevitable alter call. Embracing this rare opportunity, I assess my surroundings from my cozy spot in the farthest corner of the auditorium’s balcony. Below me, there is a sea of hands above heads swaying to renditions of old hymns and anthems about oceans setting people free. I am growing a sincere appreciation for my nosebleed seat as I pinpoint other outsiders with mouths closed and hands to their sides. The mix of hand wavers and non-swayers is somewhere between somber and comical from this vantage point. Before my mind can think anything of it, my heart flutters. A slight sense of anxiety begins to pulse through my nervous system. It isn’t hard for me to empathize with these outsiders quietly drowning in the ocean of believers below as they begin an odd, yet emotional chorus about losing themselves. A sharp tear threatens to pierce the space between my eyelids, but I promptly wipe it away before it can fully take form.
Amongst the throngs of seekers beneath me, one group remains unmoving as if floating in the surrounding ocean of arms reaching toward an eternity somewhere above the clouds. Compared to the others, they look like statues tossed into the stormy waters. They stand firm as the waves churn around them; it is all they can do to keep their heads above water. But these aren’t statues. They are people with functional brains and hearts and legs. They don’t have to be here. Come to think of it, I don’t have to be here either… Then why are they here?
Perhaps they- perhaps we are afraid of falling into faith without being sure that Holy arms will be ready and willing to catch us. Perhaps we are worried that any sudden change of heart might result in a futile thrashing about in the seas of our souls and will do nothing but actualize the apprehensions of our dour fates.
I often wonder… Were the worshipers once like this? Like us? This morning, they seem to be lost in the words and the music. They cannot help but thrash around in unison, as one body. In fact, they seem to enjoy it. Is it possible that they find joy in this? Does the joy seep out in heaps of tears from their souls when they are not tucked safely inside this sanctuary?
Once upon a time, did they look like me? Were their heads hanging, souls searching, bodies beaten down and tired when they first sauntered into this cross covered building? Or were they born with this faith in the invisible? Are there only some of us cursed with this heaviness, this innate awareness of the inevitable end that defines our mortality?
I try my hardest to hold steadfast to my role as a fly on the wall, but I can no longer ignore this unique sister of fear that has taken residence in my core. Instead of observing, I have begun to project my own misgivings. Once upon a time, it was me in that sea. I was a statue, then I was a worshiper. I was empty, then I was filled. I was hurting, then I was healed. Today, I feel like I am somewhere in the middle.
Some days, I empathize with the joyful; I am one of them. With hands outstretched toward the awaiting eternity with my Savior, I sing with an immense joy in my assurance of things hoped for and my faith in what I cannot see. However, that is not always the case. Some days, like this day, I doubt. I forget how to feel. I don’t bother praying for my soul to be healed. On these days, the lump in my throat makes standing in silence much easier than singing songs about joy and faith and love. Then, the song is over. The lights turn on, chairs creak as swayers and statues alike find their seats. Someone preaches, but God’s word is what truly speaks.
As I walk back to my car, I see people. Some of them are laughing. Some of them are walking together or alone in silence. Others are wiping away tears or kneeling together with heads bowed and hands intertwined as they whisper supplications and gratitude to their Savior. Now, there is no way for me to identify the partakers from the spectators. All I see are souls. I see the lost. I see the seeking. I see the found. I was blind, but now I see.
I see that we are all the same.