Thought for the day – Wednesday 20 May

Thought for the day - Wednesday 20 May
Dear All
It’s early in the morning, 6.14 am to be precise, and I am now writing. I had a quick look at some scientific papers from research as to how music affects the brain and was quite surprised. I was, and am surprised because some of what I read I already knew and so do you, of that, I have little doubt. One difference between you and I and the scientists, however, is probably, the use of ‘terminology’. Scientists have big complicated names for certain things whereas you and I don’t. We don’t need them, the scientists do.
Researching, I encountered terms, for example, such as ‘neurotransmitters, ‘spacio-temporal receptor fields,’ ‘cognitive musicology’ and one more, ‘functional magnetic resonance imaging’. These terms all have something to do with neuroscience, and in a way, believe it or not, we are briefly going to have a little think about it too, neuroscience that is. Thank you for your patience.
Just think for a moment what it would be like without music. I mean absolutely no music at all. We wouldn’t like it because we all love music and I would even say, we all ‘need’ music. This, I understand, has something to do with the rhythms and tones we become aware of from our earliest perceptions and memories. We’ve all been ‘shooshed’ to sleep with the sounds of a lullaby and played with little musical toys, eg rattles, mobiles and the dreaded toy drum (who gave him that to play with..anyway…?).
After a short while, when sitting on a train it doesn’t take long before your mind and ears begin to pick up the sound of the track (the original soundtrack?) and the rhythmic movements of the carriages. Before you know it you’re in another world altogether. Soothing movement and rhythms do have a calming effect.
Even without ‘man-made’ music, there is still the music of nature, the buzzing of a bee, the roar of the waves, the haunting sounds of the wind and so on. We are all affected by the sound of music, that’s because the hills are alive. That was a cheap one…
King Saul was a bit of a hothead. Sometimes he would erupt in a volcanic rage, scream and shout and throw things around. On a couple of occasions, he even threw a spear at young David just missing him by ‘inches’. His temper at times was ‘life-threateningly’ uncontrollable and is described in our passage today as an ‘evil spirit’ that God sent to afflict him. Saul was mentally disturbed.
Mental stress and tensions can build up in all of us. We can, and do at times become irritable and snap. We speak in curt, sarcastic retorts to those around us and our body language lets everyone know we are not happy about something. Being a ‘bit moody’ is how we often describe someone like that, but when it comes to threats and actual physical violence that’s another matter. Saul was in the major league of tempers and he knew it. He needed help and asked for it.
Saul was aware of what it was that eased his pain and he found it in music. Music has, I believe, a spiritual and transcendent quality. Music plays (no pun) a major part in almost, if not every religion. Music affects our moods as does soft lighting and pleasing colours for example. We speak of creating an atmosphere and that’s what David did for Saul in playing his lyre. I’ve no idea what was in the top ten at the time, but David, in any case, was a big hit. Saul calmed down.
During this Mental Health Awareness Week, we might stop and ponder what it is that affects our own mental health. We need to learn not only to look after others but ourselves as well. This is not as easy as it sounds though. It almost feels like you’re not supposed to do that. Looking after yourself is not selfishness, it is vital for our well-being and of those around us. Why not take a break just now if you can, listen to a piece of music and thank God for it. Jump or jive, rock or roll whatever you like just listen and feel the music.
Jesus said that we should love our neighbours as we love ourselves. How can you love your neighbour if you don’t love yourself? How do you love yourself, have you ever considered this?
Today I ask you to think/meditate on these things.
God bless you!


1 SAMUEL 16: 14-23

Now the Spirit of the Lord had departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord tormented him.

Saul’s attendants said to him, “See, an evil spirit from God is tormenting you. Let our lord command his servants here to search for someone who can play the lyre. He will play when the evil spirit from God comes on you, and you will feel better.”

So Saul said to his attendants, “Find someone who plays well and bring him to me.”

One of the servants answered, “I have seen a son of Jesse of Bethlehem who knows how to play the lyre. He is a brave man and a warrior. He speaks well and is a fine-looking man. And the Lord is with him.”

Then Saul sent messengers to Jesse and said, “Send me your son David, who is with the sheep.”So Jesse took a donkey loaded with bread, a skin of wine and a young goat and sent them with his son David to Saul.

David came to Saul and entered his service. Saul liked him very much, and David became one of his armour-bearers. Then Saul sent word to Jesse, saying, “Allow David to remain in my service, for I am pleased with him.”

Whenever the spirit from God came on Saul, David would take up his lyre and play. Then relief would come to Saul; he would feel better, and the evil spirit would leave him.


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