August 28, 2022

The Joy of Music


For the past three weeks, I have basked in learning more about the Book of Psalms as part of my Old Testament Study. I have been uplifted, enraptured, and inspired as I have read passages from the scriptures. But even more, I have been filled with joy as I have listened to the weekly Follow Him podcast with Hank Smith and John Bytheway, along with their three fantastic guests: Shon D. Hopkin, Eric D. Huntsman, and Michael McLean.


I was not expecting the experience that I had over the course of the past three weeks. As I listened to these amazing scholars, teachers, and musicians, I began to feel such deep joy and gratitude as they shared their knowledge and love of the scriptures, and more significantly, their love of music. Each guest was able to share history, testimony, and their experiences with music in a unique way. I found myself in another realm, basking in the light of their testimonies. It was an extraordinary experience for me, one that I will always remember, and one which has touched me to the depths of my soul.


My life is filled to the brim with learning, teaching, and performing. It is also filled with meetings and paperwork. Don’t get me wrong, I love what I do. I love music to my very core. I love teaching. I love performing. I love sharing. But as of late, with so many challenges on every side, my musical and spiritual cup has been empty. And from that emptiness, it has been difficult to give to others.


For many years I was able to perform sacred music in a variety of settings, almost weekly. It was a treasured part of my life and career. In fact, other than my family and students, that sacred part of my career gave me sustenance. It filled my musical and spiritual cup to the brim and fed my soul in ways that nothing else ever has. 


As I sit here, reminiscing over the miraculous three weeks with the Book of Psalms, I am remembering that the Lord literally fed me manna in my musical and spiritual wilderness. I am remembering that I received a gift from others, of feeling once again the joy of music. And I am remembering the joy of music as I read the final verse of Psalms: “Let everything that hath breath praise the Lord.”


August 13, 2022

The Light in the Darkness

During our church services last week, the sound of the organ abruptly stopped during the opening hymn, and the lights in the chapel began flickering. Our wonderful organist went to the piano and continued to play the hymn. At some point during the hymn, all of the lights went out completely. We were in complete darkness for a moment. And we all kept singing....

I was amazed at the experience that unfolded during that hour of worship. There was a flurry of activity as our leaders were trying to figure out what was going on. And very quickly, many members turned on their smart phone flashlights. There, in the darkness, we witnessed little lights shining throughout the chapel. There was also a light at the pulpit, the piano, the music stand, and the sacrament table. Many of the deacons turned on their flashlights and put the phone in their pockets, which lighted their way as they offered the bread and the water to each of us. 

The symbolism of light was so profound to me during that hour. As I partook of the bread, and drank the water, I felt like God was speaking to me, and reminding me of the importance of light, of remembering that Jesus Christ is the light of the world, and that He is the light that we should seek, the light that we should hold up.


We had a very sweet testimony meeting, with many children, as well as other faithful members, bearing testimony. Even without a microphone, I was amazed to hear and feel the truths of the gospel during each testimony. I was also grateful to testify that Jesus Christ is the light of the world, and it is through Him and His light that we find our way back to our Heavenly Father.


“I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” (John 8:12)


“Come ye, and let us walk in the light of the Lord.” (Isaiah 2:5)


“Therefore, hold up your light that it may shine unto the world. Behold I am the light which ye shall hold up—that which ye have seen me do.” (3 Nephi 18:24)


“Every time you turn your hearts to God in humble prayer, you experience His light. Every time you seek His word and will in the scriptures, the light grows in brightness. Every time you notice someone in need and sacrifice your own comfort to reach out in love, the light expands and swells.” (Dieter F. Uchtdorf)


I remembered another experience with light that occurred many years ago. As a music student at Brigham Young University, I was very busy with classes, practicing, performances, and studying. I tend to wear my stress on my sleeve, and like most musicians, I am also a perfectionist.


One day, two wonderful friends contacted me, and told me they had an activity planned and it would take a bit more time than usual. At the appointed time (it was late in the evening), they picked me up from my apartment, and we got in their car. They also covered my eyes with a blindfold and told me to be patient as we would be driving for a while. I completely trusted them. We drove around Provo, and because of the blindfold, and as I also closed my eyes, I was in complete darkness. We talked and chatted, and I was curious about the purpose of our drive in the darkness. I wanted to know where we were going.


Finally, the car stopped, and they helped me get out. Then they uncovered my eyes. There we were, in the mountains above Provo. As my eyes began to adjust, I beheld the lights of the Provo Temple, with brilliant illumination, lighting the valley below. I will never forget the contrast between darkness and light, the beautiful light of the temple. Tears flooded my eyes, and inspiration poured into my soul. We shared a few thoughts with each other about the light, about the temple, and about heavenly perspective. 


And then as we drank in that heavenly temple light, we also stood silent.

1st photo: Stars - NASA

2nd photo: Starry, starry night - NASA

3rd photo: Provo Temple in the Evening