Show of hands: how many of you watched the royal wedding last month? Right. A whole lot of you!
There was much to remember from this remarkable event, but what has kept going through my mind is the choir singing John Rutter’s “The Lord Bless You and Keep You.” Call it what you will – an earworm or brainworm or sticky music (there’s a whole Wikipedia entry for “earworm”) – the song keeps playing over and over in my mind. It doesn’t help that I’ve sung this piece many times and know it well or that it’s often on a favorite playlist of mine.
It’s not the first time this has happened to me. Actually, it happens to me all the time. Sometimes I live with the earworm until it goes away, which it finally does. Other times I’ll try to break the sequence by playing some other tunes. Sometimes I’m successful. Sometimes, the earworm continues. I never gave too much thought to earworms until an encounter about 20 years ago.
A holy connection?
I was making polite conversation with a retreat leader one day, prior to a staff retreat. It was a Monday morning, and I mentioned that we had sung a particular tune the day before in worship and I couldn’t get it out of my head.
“Did you ever pause to consider,” he asked, “that it might be the Holy Spirit singing to you?” He went on to reflect that perhaps the Holy Spirit was using the text and music to send a particular message to me. Boom! Mind blown!
“Did you ever pause to consider,” the leader asked, “that [earworms] might be the Holy Spirit singing to you?”
Prior to that conversation, I tolerated earworms, even the more annoying ones. After that, I started paying attention to them. What message did the earworm carry? What word of grace was being sung to me?
So, the priestly benediction that God directed Moses to speak to Aaron and his sons (see Numbers 6:22-26) is on my heart and mind these days, compliments of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex and John Rutter. I’m going to let the Holy Spirit sing.
Linda Post Bushkofsky is executive director for Women of the ELCA.