Formation Fridays: Hearing the Music

Some people don’t like bass. I’m a bass player, so obviously I have some opinions  about the often maligned and misunderstood low-end of music: it’s too loud, it’s too disruptive, it wakes up the neighbors. I’ve heard it all. But, my opinion might surprise you. I don’t think that the bass needs to be turned way up. The bass isn’t the point, but to that end, neither is the treble.

You see, neither one fully encompasses the fullness of a song. Most speakers we listen to (car speakers, our phone speakers, and, bum bum bum, those headphones that came with your phone) do not do an adequate job of really revealing a song to our ears. They tend to over-emphasize the treble and under-emphasize the bass. When all you have is treble, you get to hear the melody and the words, but that is about it. You can hear a part of the song, but you aren’t hearing the whole thing. You know the song on the surface, but you don’t understand it fully until you get the lower register in the mix. Bass provides a depth and a richness to the music that you can only experience when it is there.

Balance is key here, though. We’ve all heard that car driving down the street with the subwoofer that sounds like the car is going to rattle apart. Too much bass isn’t right either. We need both.

You may be thinking, “What does this have to do with joy, formation, or anything you are supposed to be talking about here?”

Hang with me.

I heard an author recently talk about the Christian life in musical terms, specifically, in terms of treble and bass. On Sunday, Kevin described joy as “grace recognized,” which is different than happiness. Sometimes, joy is going to look a lot like sadness, other times it will look like pure elation.

Emotions are the treble. Joy is the bass.

One isn’t better than the other. In fact, both are necessary. Our emotions aren’t bad. These “notes” are signals to us of our inner experiences. When we feel something, our hearts, minds and souls are trying to communicate that to us. But if your worth is wrapped up in these quickly changing notes, you are going to have a hard time keeping tabs on yourself. Conversely, too much bass and you might lose touch with the world around you.

Joy is something we have to practice. It is a skill that we can develop. I’m sure we will be discussing that more in the weeks to come as we continue to explore joy. I want to leave us with this quote from 14th century mystic, Julian of Norwich, which is helpful for us as we consider joy and practicing it in our lives:

First the fall, and then the recovery from the fall, and both are the grace of God.

I pray we can recognize God’s grace in the ups and downs and practice the fullness of life.

Hope and joy to you,


Britney KingComment