Art & Healing: Music (2/6)
When I went through my health crisis in 2012, I suffered from a combination of physical illnesses, made infinitely worse by extreme and long-standing stress that had worn me down to a jumpy, nervous wreck. As I recovered at home from a brief hospitalization, I was too weak to lift my head up off the pillow. Yet, if my husband would so much as open the bedroom door — much less start to speak before I knew he was there, I would jerk awake so violently that my arms flung wide and I jumped halfway out of bed. My heart would be racing, my breath catching, and I would get mad at hubby for scaring me so bad. And this happened EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. I’m talking maybe 10 times a day.
During this time, I started reading and working through some books on calming anxiety, and one exercise asked me to picture myself in the last place I had felt completely safe. I thought back and back through my life, and you know where I ended up? In the womb.
I think I must have learned even as an infant that the world wasn’t a safe place, and that, to at least some extent, I was on my own. You know how a toddler in a crib will stand up and cry, and after a while, if no one responds and picks her up, her cries become more frenzied, until she is shrieking hysterically in a potent mix of fear and rage? At that point, it takes some serious soothing to help her slowly calm herself, to let the emotional floodwaters recede — through the angry squirming and fighting, then through the hiccups and the shuddering deep breaths, and finally to an exhausted sleep.
I think that’s the kind of primal comforting that I needed to receive at that point in my life, when all my own resources had been depleted, and I just couldn’t keep on the way I had been going.
That’s when God, in His mercy, gave me this lullaby, “Sweet Little Baby Girl,” sung as if He were coming into the darkened room and picking me up out of my crib.
I recorded my own personal version, and many times during that time of severe anxiety and what felt like slow burn panic attacks — and occasionally even still — I listened to it on headphones and experienced a deep comfort.
Later, as I was thinking sadly about how no one ever really gave me a nickname when I was a kid (to be fair, I was such a solemn little girl, and Celeste doesn’t easily lend itself to nicknames), I “got” this song, sung to a snappy tune, again as if from my Father:
Haha, what fun! And how happy and loved it makes me feel! I will definitely sing it to my grandkids, if I ever get any! 😉
Another music-related spiritual practice that I have engaged in occasionally is writing and singing a little ditty to go along with some everyday habit, to turn my thoughts heavenward. This one is sung to the tune of West Side Story’s “One Hand, One Heart,” and is to be sung in the shower:
So this is my encouragement with this post. Write your own simple little songs and sing them to yourself! No one else needs to hear them if you don’t want to share them. But, if you ever made up songs when you were a kid (and I bet you did, even if you don’t remember), you still can.
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