I have no idea how many hands passed over the ticket I took to this evening’s Night of Hope and Healing concert for Newtown other than to say it had to have been a lot. I got a facebook message an hour and half before the concert asking me if I was free. I thought I’d just been invited to a fundraiser at a coffee shop.
Of course the timing was uncanny since I’d spent the last six hours in the library and was yet to interact with another human today, in addition to the much more important fact that the cryptic and thoroughly nondescript message indicated that it was some kind of memorial event.
We arrived an hour late and spent almost as much time looking for a parking spot as we did driving to Bridgeport. As we walked out of the parking garage, I heard the traffic director yell at a guy the floor below that the lot was full and to send everyone else home. Probably less than a dozen cars made it in after us.
Turns out that I mistaked coffeeshop acoustic guitars with Chris Tomlin, Mandesa, Laura Story, TobyMac, Casting Crowns, Louie Giglio, Max Lucado, and Stephen Curtis Chapman. The truth is, I care very little about seeing these people live. As far as the music, I’d just have well preferred to sit on my bed and looked out my massive windows with my ipod up a little too loud and quiet prayers falling out my fingertips.
But it really isn’t about the music.
It’s about the people and the worship and the healing. At one point, a very specific moment, as I don’t know how many people sang the line of some chorus acapella, I remember wishing that they’d have dimmed the spotlight like all the other lights that had just faded. It didn’t matter who was on stage, backstage, or in the crowd; it was the single loudest, most melodious and pleasing sound of praise I’d ever heard.
I know the night was for healing and hope, but the whole evening left what felt like a shaving over the top layer of tissue on my heart. I scraped my way through AP bio some years ago, and while that’s as impressive as my science background goes, when I say layer of tissue on my heart, I mean that I am literally thinking about the muscle tissue making up the organ.
To me, this is an odd image, especially given the context of the situation. I had the perfect words to explain it on our way out the building and they are escaping me now, but I think it comes down to that moment of praise.
I heard harmonies that rarely appear in choirs so large. In our words melted anger and desperation, and while there was not yet resolution, there was hope, but it was not offered to or received by any one individual. In simultaneous praise, came simultaneous peace.