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The Space Between the Notes

I want to share something that is based upon the words I once read written by a musician at the death of a friend, a fellow musician.

“Many believe that silence is the opposite of sound and that there is nothing to hear. A musician knows that’s just not true. Every good musician knows that silence is the necessary space between the notes. That space, what most of us might call or experience as emptiness, absence, or a void, is fundamental to music. That space of silence is as much a part of the music as is each note. That space sets a rhythm, holds the energy of a phrase, and gives music its life, power, and beauty. Silence is never just emptiness, an absence, or a void; not in music, not in life, not in death, and not on this day.”

As you sit in silence this morning, of what did you think? What did you hear? Maybe memories of your own friends and loved ones who have gone home? You may have heard the song of their love, their song of friendship, their song of service, their song of presence in your life. Was there a song they gave you? That touched your life? Did they, in some way, conduct you to write your own music of your life?

Hang on to those songs. Let them fill you and carry you. They are treasured hymns. But you may have also heard your song of grief and sorrow, your song of loss, your song of love for, or of lost friendship. It probably had a verse or two about loneliness, sadness, and wondering how you can know the way. That’s the space between the notes. It is a rest, where you reflect upon what the notes are saying.

Know this. The music of life does not end at death. Our loved one’s music will continue to play in our own lives. Today we may stand in that space between the notes, a space where we do reflect, remember, and enjoy the notes that surround this “rest.” But our loved ones live on. It’s just that the music of their life now plays in a different key. Death is not the coda, the conclusion, to the song of life.

The music hasn’t ended. There has only been a key change. A transition, a step up to a higher key. A beautiful key that will continue resonating in our own lives.

So in this silence at the end of one’s life, let us hear in our hearts the song of their good life, their voice, their words of encouragement, their zest for life, their care for their family … It will not truly be silent. This silence is a temporary pause for remembrance. Until that moment when we are reunited with them to sing together The New Song, of Moses and the Lamb, around the throne of God.

May we all be comforted by the words we find in Revelation 14.13:

“Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Blessed indeed,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!”