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“My life flows on in endless song, above earth’s lamentation. I hear the real, though far off hymn that hails a new creation. No storm can shake my inmost calm, while to that Rock I’m clinging. Since love is Lord of heaven and earth, how can I keep from singing? Through all the tumult and the strife, I hear that music ringing. It finds an echo in my soul…how can I keep from singing?”
I don’t know about you, but when I’m feeling worried, anxious, stressed out, unsure, depressed, or lonely, I find solace in a beautiful song. That one above, How Can I Keep from Singing? is one of my favorites, because it confronts the reality of a world full of suffering – and yet – I am still compelled to sing. Music is like a balm for a weary, wounded soul. Music has a way of wrapping my heart in a tender embrace, soothing me, quieting me, and reminding me that all is well.
Throughout my time in India with Truthseekers International, one of my favorite things about it was that everyone was always singing. I wrote recently about the opportunity I had to speak to thousands of Buddhists in Maharashtra, which was such an honor. I didn’t mention that Pranjal, a key leader within TSI, was given the chance to speak as well…but instead of talking, he took the microphone and simply sang. He sang a familiar Hindi tune, not a hymn or a worship song, but a song of the people that had an eternal message. That’s one of the amazing things that Truthseekers does – they take Truth and package it in a way that the people of the lower castes can understand. They don’t change the Truth, they simply use language that is familiar and approachable. And more often than not, that Truth comes in the form of a song.
On a warm morning a few weeks ago, Sunil (TSI co-founder), several other TSI staff, and I drove twenty minutes through the tree lined streets of Delhi to Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), a prominent secular university on the south side of the city. We were greeted warmly by several members of the university faculty, and a few hundred people were milling around the quad, grabbing snacks and drinks. The event being held was a celebration of Guru Ravidas, a 15th century poet and spiritual leader. He was a “truthseeker” – never a Christian – but wrote poetry about a “land without sorrow.” Ravidas was anti-caste and anti-idol worship and believed in a place where suffering ceased and pain was no more.
Ravidas is a well-known figure in India, and a perfect example of the kind of contextualizing Truthseekers is doing. The common person may know nothing of Jesus or heaven, but they do know Ravidas and his ideas about a land of no sorrow. So Truthseekers can take a well-known story, the story of Ravidas, and say, “We know that place he was talking about!” and it becomes a bridge. A celebration of this poet was the perfect opportunity for TSI to get their foot in the door with the academic community and speak of kingdom-minded issues.
The lecture hall was packed – students, faculty, staff, and media – all there to celebrate a 15th century poet who spoke out against the caste system. Not only were they there to celebrate, but also to engage in academic discourse surrounding what he stood for. Of course, the program was in Hindi, so even though I had a great seat up front, I was unable to follow any of the speeches. But then the microphone was turned over to Sunil, and in his beautiful voice, he began to sing:
“Come with me and let me take you to the place where there is no sorrow, only love. I’m taking you to a place where love resides, no pain. This is the dreamland of mine where there is only love and truth. No tears, no pain, no discrimination…only love.”
What a beautiful message. It’s the kind of message that rings true, resonates in the souls of men, and is remembered long after it is heard. As I said, music has a way of healing crushing wounds.
The event was a success, both for JNU and Truthseekers, and I left so encouraged. It was an incredible reminder of the unique ways that TSI is infiltrating their society with words of truth in a way that is received and welcomed by the people.
If you’re feeling worried, anxious, or uncertain…I encourage you…find a song that speaks to your soul. It has the power to mend our broken hearts, bring peace to us in our weariness, and breathe new life into our innermost being.
Until next time,
About the Author: Sarah is a journalism fellow with World Next Door. She has her undergraduate degree in Business Communication from Azusa Pacific University in Southern California and is currently working on her Masters degree in Organizational Leadership. Sarah recently finished a two and a half year assignment working for an anti-trafficking NGO in Kathmandu, Nepal, where she had the opportunity to mentor and lead college students in ministry abroad. She is mildly obsessed with Jeopardy, coffee, running, and the Atlanta Falcons.