In the moments of everyday living, from the waking minutes of morning as I linger long over a cup of coffee, into the afternoon as I cut through the jungle of tasks which clamor for my attention, to the softening of daylight as my body slows down in anticipation of sleep, there are countless intersections of the spirit and body, the sacred and secular. Organically, in a most natural way, these intersections diverge and merge, separate and intersect again.
Too often I think many of us desire a clean distinction between the two planes, as if they are polar opposites of a magnet which must repel the other. We know how to operate in the physical realm, and we can allow ourselves to be inserted into dimensions spiritual, but to hover between the two can make for feeling more than a bit out-of-sorts, wobbly and disoriented. I think this hovering or straddling between the two, seeking to bridge the distinctions is precisely the most fulfilling way to live. Humans are nothing if not multi-dimensional. To allow for greater linking of the spiritual and the physical, including sacred and secular can lead to higher living and a fuller life. Maintaining an awareness of the presence of spirituality while working in physical territory will alter the course of our decisions in a way that can reduce what is trivial and focus on what is ultimately most beneficial.
Do you perform your "secular" songs for the benefit of a greater good? If so, you are doing something sacred. Do you perform "sacred" music to receive accolades and applause from those who hear you perform? If so, then how can your music be considered sacred? If your music is well-crafted and diligently-rehearsed, that is a good start. If it contains a positive message, that is a must! And if your intent is to share this positive message, hoping to transport your listeners to a place of comfort for those in distress, or healing for the brokenhearted, it is a beautiful thing, a very good thing indeed! Music need not explicitly mention God to result in a listener moving closer toward God.
Does God wear the finest garments or flashy accessories proclaiming "Divine Deity, Supreme Being"? More often there is an unnoticed God, present but camouflaged among us in the most ordinary clothing, too busy with the task of ministry and healing to be constrained by gold-threaded robes, the finest stoles or ceremonial hats. Any time music uplifts someone and spurs them to lift up others or offer kindness to strangers, this is a sacred thing which God smiles upon.
And doesn't God delight in the human experience? Loving relationships between people of all walks of life surely please God. Our life stories shared in a positive light are a source of strength. God is in the physical world, all the time working through other humans to bring positive change, however small or seemingly insignificant.
The things we hold sacred and the things we may recognize as secular will always intersect in the most unexpected or ordinary ways. With music ministry, music performance or composition it is imperative that we ask, "What is our intent, and what is the result?” Though we may not see the result right away…or ever, it is an important question to keep in the forefront of our musical labors.