Thoroughly Alive

We must hunger after the beautiful and the good...


I played my drums for him

Every few months or so, I fall in love with a song. Starry-eyed, smitten-souled, love. I'm one of those people who will play one song over and over, because it strikes some chord in me that no other music ever has. This Christmas, my love song was Drummer Boy, sung by Josh Groban on his Christmas CD, Noel.

The sheer exultation of the music, that is what I love. A story song this, about a little boy whose heart throbbed in love for the baby Christ, but who had nothing great he could give. Except his music. Except the soul of himself as it played in his skilled little hands and hammered out a beat to which shepherds and kings and angels could dance. He brought nothing but the grand self God made him to be, and that was a glory of a gift. The mid-part of the song is simply a rise of music and Josh's one voice exulting, "I played my drums for him," in a triumph of a cry.

This heartened me greatly throughout the days that led to Christmas. Each time I heard it, I was reminded that my worship rises from the center of my particular being. I've had to work this holiday season. My deadlines for writing and study drove me to use  every spare minute for work. I haven't had time to sit and reflect, to laze or read the Advent reflections I usually do at Christmas. I wondered if I was cheating God of my heart. And yet, the work I have done is good; I love what I am writing, and revel in all that I study in history and books. And one day, as I listened to Drummer Boy again, I realized that my work is my song. My writing is my drummer boy gift to God. It is the whole of my God-formed self stretched in an all out run after the word work I was formed to do. The vim with which I do it, the joy I take in creation and craft, this is the way I play for the holy child.

Eric Liddell, Olympic athlete, and God lover said this: "when I run, I feel God's pleasure." When I write, I know God's joy. When the drummer boy played, he felt God's pride (and sheesh, I hope Josh feels it when he sings). We are all made, I believe, with a force of art, or action, or thought within us. Never to be replicated, it is the gift of self God set at our cores. And it is a gift we can give back again, both to God, and to our world if we live it to the full. As a writer, I have realized that the cultivation of my particular force, words, is the way I give thanks. When I live out the self God made me, and do it with purpose and love, I sing a song for all the world to hear.

So what is the drive in your soul? Do you sing, or think up scientific theories, or plan gardens, or dance, or run, or know how to make children laugh? Then be as the little drummer boy. Sing your best, and I will too. Merry (late) Christmas to you all!

Sarah Clarkson4 Comments