Sunday, August 26, 2012

Chasing Happiness (8/26/12)

Chasing Happiness
John Shuck

First Presbyterian Church
Elizabethton, Tennessee

August 26, 2012

“His disciples said to him, ‘When will the Father’s empire come?’ ‘It won’t come by watching for it. It won’t be said, ‘Look, here!’ or ‘Look, there!’ Rather, the Father’s empire is spread out upon the earth, and people don’t see it.’”
--Gospel of Thomas 113

Happiness is the theme for this summer’s worship services. For the past few years I have coordinated the worship services around the four paths of Creation Spirituality. I connect a path to a season of the year. Summer with its abundance seems logically connected to the via positiva. The way or the path of wow and wonder. It is a path of fullness. It is life and light and fruitfulness. It is royalty and celebration. It is music in 4/4 time. It is joyful. It is happy.

This summer I thought it would be good to examine happiness. What can we learn about happiness from the sages in our past as well as from our present knowledge. What is happiness from the perspective of science and spirit? A helpful guide has been Jonathan Haidt and his book, The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom.

In one of his chapters he introduces the happiness formula:

H = S + C + V

H is happiness.

S is our biological set point. According to Dr. Haidt, happiness is set for us biologically. Happiness for the most part is in our genes. It isn’t only in our genes. We can adjust our set point or our set range. Dr. Haidt says we can cheat and push up that set point in three ways,

1. medication
2. meditation and
3. cognitive behavioral therapy (ie. “fake it ‘til you make it”).

The sages past discovered early on, long before medication, that meditation was the principle way to increase happiness, to raise that set point. They knew of medication too. But it is trickier. It can have side effects. Drink that gladdens the heart can also cause other problems. The medication that the psychologist, Dr. Haidt is referring to is modern medication such as Prozac. That has been helpful, in many cases life-saving, but also tricky. Of course, CBT or cognitive behavioral therapy was probably linked to virtue in the past. The ancient form of CBT would be in the Book of Proverbs. The wisdom found there is about changing behavior. Such as:
Do not love sleep, or else you will come to poverty;
open your eyes, and you will have plenty of bread.

All cultures have sage wisdom, much of it having to do with modifying behavior. For the most part, happiness is set biologically. From a modern perspective, these are three things that can boost up that set point and provide a head start: Medication, Meditation, and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.  That is the S in the equation. There is more.

H = S + C + V

C represents the conditions of life. While the Buddha might have insisted that happiness is within, there are some external things that can affect our happiness, and we would do well to change them if we can.  According to the serenity prayer:
Give me the courage to change the things I can.
The serenity to accept the things I cannot change.
The wisdom to know the difference.

Some of the things to change if you can are exposure to noise, commuting time, amount of control over your own life decisions and stressors, body image, and the one that trumps them all:  
“the strength and number of a person’s relationships.” P. 94 
This is what Dr. Haidt says about it:
“…having an annoying office mate or roommate, or having chronic conflict with your spouse—is one of the surest ways to reduce your happiness. You never adapt to interpersonal conflict; it damages every day, even days when you don’t see the other person but ruminate about the conflict nonetheless.” P. 94

So externals matter. There are ways to increase happiness by working on the conditions of life, particularly our relationships. That is the C in the equation. The most important condition or C is love—not just love in the abstract but loving relationships with real flesh and blood human beings.

H= S + C + V

V is action. These are voluntary activities. V stands for those things we voluntarily choose to do. They include activities that seek pleasure and that build on our skills and strengths. Haidt writes:
“So V (voluntary activity) is real….You can increase your happiness if you use your strengths, particularly in the service of strengthening connections—helping friends, expressing gratitude to benefactors.” P. 97-8

If C is love then V is work.

To put it simply in our happiness formula,

H = S + C + V

Happiness equals your set point plus loving relationships plus meaningful work.

That was a sermon I already preached on June 24th the first Sunday of summer when I started this series.

Four days later on June 28th, my 25 year old son, Zachary, died unexpectedly.

How do I fit that in the formula?

Happiness equals set point plus love plus work minus tragedy.

Jonathan Haidt does say that the set point is called set point for a reason. People win the lottery and after the initial euphoria wears off they tend to drop back to their initial happiness biological set point. People experience tragedy and after a time of grief then they tend to move back up to their biological set point.

I guess we’ll see. I am not so sure about that but I’ll keep you posted.

To prepare for this series I bought a bunch of books on happiness. They have titles such as:
  • Stumbling On Happiness
  • The Pursuit of Happiness: Discovering the Pathway to Fulfillment, Well-Being, and Enduring Personal Joy
  • Happiness: A Guide to Developing Life’s Most Important Skill
  • Authentic Happiness: Using the New Positive Psychology to Realize Your Potential for Lasting Fulfillment
  • The Happiness Project: Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun
I think those are all probably very good books. I haven’t opened any of them.

Recall this scene in The Wizard of Oz.   The scene is near the end when Dorothy, the Lion, the Scarecrow and the Tin Man have discovered that the Wizard is a phony. He is no wizard. He is a blowhard from Nebraska. He does know a few things, though. He proceeds to pull out of his black bag a diploma for the scarecrow, a testimonial for the tin man, and a medal of valor for the lion. He knows that they had all those virtues already. They just needed them recognized.

Then it is Dorothy’s turn. Dorothy sees the helpless look on the wizard’s face and she realizes she is in a different universe from her friends. She says,
“I don’t think there is anything in that black bag for me.”

No there isn’t. She is from a different world. A tornado ripped through her life. Her friends can watch and try to comfort her from a distance but there is nothing they or the phony wizard can give her that will help her get where she needs to go.

Like Dorothy, there is nothing in that stack of happiness books for me. At least for now. They are from a different world. Maybe they will be helpful someday.

In a day or two lives will be ripped apart along Florida’s coast and the Gulf Coast due to Hurricane Isaac. Hopefully there will be enough warning so people can find safety but no amount of forecasting and television coverage can communicate the pain of loss. It is surreal watching the before knowing there will be an after.

This life is fragile. I wonder if the only way we can protect our sanity is to pretend it isn’t.

When I selected the texts for this summer, I chose this saying for today from the Gospel of Thomas. It is a quote attributed to Jesus that sounds a lot like one from Luke 17:20-21:
When asked by the Pharisees when the empire of God would come, he answered them, “You won’t be able to observe the coming of the empire of God. People won’t be able to say, ‘Look , here it is!’ or ‘Over there!’ On the contrary, the empire of God is among you.”

I like the Thomas version more:
“His disciples said to him, ‘When will the Father’s empire come?’ ‘It won’t come by watching for it. It won’t be said, ‘Look, here!’ or ‘Look, there!’ Rather, the Father’s empire is spread out upon the earth, and people don’t see it.’” --Gospel of Thomas 113

One question is whether or not Jesus is right. Is the empire of God spread out upon the earth and among us or is it something that needs to come? That is a big question. Is God going to make it better someday or is what we got what we got and you ought to find the the empire of God within it?

Scholars cannot agree on what Jesus thought about that. The texts attribute both views to him. Some say Jesus was apocalyptic, that is that God will intervene and make life better. Others say no, Jesus believed that life is what we see and what we make it to be.

So what view is likely to make us happier? Will we be happier if we believe that the empire is something that will come in the future or will we be happier if we believe that the empire of God is spread out everywhere right now?

I tend to think that people believe what they need to believe. For what it is worth, I say, believe whatever gets you through.

This came in an email to me today. I liked it so I will share it with you:
Hope is not pretending that troubles don't exist.
It is the trust that they will not last forever,
that hurts will be healed and difficulties overcome.
It is faith that a source of strength and renewal lies within
to lead us through the dark to the sunshine.

I suppose this empire thing is both/and for me. Sometimes the sadness and pain are too great to see the beauty and hope that is present, but I have trust or faith that it is there and that it will come. Maybe, in time, we will find it--in a happiness formula, maybe in someone’s black bag, a stack of books, a song, a scripture verse, a journey inward, or maybe through the eyes of a friend who can help us see it.


Sunday, August 19, 2012

And David Danced (8/19/12)

And David Danced
John Shuck

First Presbyterian Church
Elizabethton, Tennessee

August 19, 2012

David and all the house of Israel were dancing before the Lord with all their might, with songs and lyres and harps and tambourines and castanets and cymbals.
2 Samuel 6:5

My wife’s grandmother is one of those people I have always enjoyed.
She is very down to earth.
About ten years ago the family was gathered and we were talking politics.
The conversation turned toward President Clinton
who at the time had just left office.
Grandma Helen had the best evaluation I have heard then or since.
She shook her head and said,
“He was a good president but a naughty boy.”

I think that might be a good evaluation for King David in the Bible.
He was a good king, but a naughty boy.

Some of the best literature in the Bible is found
in the narratives of 1 and 2 Samuel.
They are the stories, for the most part of David.
He is the shepherd boy chosen by God over his older,
stronger brothers because the text tells us
For the Lord does not see as mortals see;
they look on the outward appearance,
but the Lord looks on the heart. 1 Sam. 16:7

David is the one chosen by God to replace Saul and be king over Israel.
Many of the stories reflect this tension between Saul and David.

When Saul goes mad, David is the one who soothes him with music.
David is the brave young man who slays the giant Goliath
with a slingshot and a smooth stone.
David is a mighty warrior.
While Saul kills his thousands, David kills his ten thousands.
The plot is complicated as Saul’s daughter Michal loved David.
But David really loved Saul’s son, Jonathan.
When Jonathan is killed in battle, David weeps for him and says,
“ brother, Jonathan,
greatly beloved were you to me;
Your love to me was wonderful,
Passing the love of women.” 2 Sam. 1:26

David is a victor and knows how to celebrate his victory.
After he brings back the ark of the covenant,
           he strips down to his underwear and dances.
David and all the house of Israel were dancing before the Lord with all their might, with songs and lyres and harps and tambourines and castanets and cymbals. 2 Samuel 6:5

His wife, Michal, is not impressed and tells him that
 he is dishonoring his role as king.
But apparently, God was on David’s side on this one.
The text says that
“Michal, the daughter of Saul had no child to the day of her death.” 2 Sam. 6:23

Biblical literature has an odd way of punishing its characters
in its attempt to determine what God might think.
I think it is important to remember that this is literature
and these are all literary characters created by their authors.
These literary characters include the character, God.
This literature has left a legacy in which tragedy is viewed as divine punishment.
But just because these ancient authors wrote in that way,
it doesn’t mean it is true.

Yet the passion is poignant.
David is acquainted with grief.
In addition to the death of his beloved, Jonathan,
David’s son,Absalom, also dies in battle.
David voices one of the greatest cries of grief
known in western literature:
‘O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! Would that I had died instead of you, O Absalom, my son, my son!’ 2 Sam. 18:33

In David, we see great joy and great grief.
And it is all out there.

In a narrative that begins with another great line from literature,
         “In the Spring of the year the time when kings go out to battle,”
David does his naughty thing.
He spies on the beautiful Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah, bathing.
He has an affair with her while her husband is fighting for him.
Because he thinks she might be pregnant,
David tries to cover it up by calling Uriah
back to spend the night with his wife.
Uriah is such an honorable soldier that he
refuses to enjoy pleasure with his wife
while his comrades are fighting.
Then David has Uriah sent to the front lines where he will be killed.
After that happens, David makes Bathsheba his wife.

David’s scheme does not go unnoticed.
The Lord who sees on the heart also sees the sins of the heart.
The prophet Nathan confronts David with a story:

Once there was a man who had a small lamb.
He loved his lamb as if it were a child.
Another man had many lambs.
But the day the wealthy man wanted a feast
he took the poor man’s lamb and slaughtered it.

“What should happen to that man?” Nathan asks David.
David filled with righteous indignation said that the wealthy man deserves to die!

And Nathan says, and I need to use the King James to get the full effect,
“Thou art the man!”

Nathan tells David of his sin and David repents.
In the biblical way of regarding tragedy as judgment,
the child of David and Bathsheba dies in infancy.
And in the biblical way of expressing redemption,
another son of Bathsheba and David,
Solomon, eventually becomes David’s heir.

David is credited with writing the psalms,
all the great poetry of praise and lament.
It was fitting to credit David with that as his own life was filled with passion.
Plus he was a musician who could dance.
Current scholarship does not regard the psalms as authored by David.
In fact, the literature surrounding David is now considered by many scholars to be fiction more than history.
He is like King Arthur, more of a legend than an historical figure.

While that might be considered a loss,
that is the loss of the historicity of David, I tend to think of it as a gain.
Seen as literature, the authors come alive.
What is it they want to tell us about life, passion, and God through these stories?

In the character of David,
we are shown the depth and the height of human experience.
The greatest joys and the deepest sorrows are found in him.
In David, kingdoms are formed.
Battles are won.
Battles are lost.
He achieved greatness and he paid for that with great personal pain.
In the portrait of David,
the authors paint a life fully lived, filled with joy and sorrow.

This summer’s sermon series is on happiness.
One of the resources is a book by psychologist Jonathan Haidt,
The Happiness Hypothesis:  Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom.

One of the topics he addresses is life’s purpose and meaning.
Rather than speak objectively about the meaning of life,
which is pretty hard to do, actually,
he writes subjectively about something that is a bit more approachable.
What is the meaning within life?

How can we make our lives meaningful and purposeful? He writes:
Why do some people live lives full of zest, commitment, and meaning, but others feel their lives are empty and pointless? P. 219

The goal isn’t to judge ourselves or others
but really to give ourselves permission to invent or to reinvent ourselves.
We might look at some of the things human beings need.
In the end he says we are social creatures and industrial creatures.
We need love and attachments.
We need real relationships.
Also, we need vital engagement and meaningful work.
We need a calling, if you will.

He writes:
Happiness is not something you can find, acquire, or achieve directly. You have to get the conditions right and then wait. Some of those conditions are within you, such as coherence among the parts and levels of your personality. Other conditions require relationships to things beyond you. Just as plants need sun, water, and good soil to thrive, people need love, work, and connection to something larger. It is worth striving to get the right relationships between yourself and others, between yourself and your work, and between yourself and something larger than yourself. If you get these relationships right, a sense of purpose and meaning will emerge. P. 237-8

As I look at the story of David
who has relationships with many, both men and women,
who had meaningful work, battling giants and enemies
who established a kingdom for something higher than himself,
          that is God,
who sins, and yet knows enough not to blame someone else for it,
          or wallow in guilt,
          but repents and pays the consequences,
who grieves deeply in his heart,
who makes music, writes poetry, and dances…

…so what of David?

Was he happy?
He probably had a good a chance as anyone.
So do we all….


Sunday, August 12, 2012

It's All God (8/12/12)

Jesus said, “I am the light that is over all things. I am all: from me all came forth, and to me all attained. Split a piece of wood; I’m there. Lift up the stone, and you’ll find me there.
--Jesus, Gospel of Thomas 77

When I created the themes for summer worship I chose the larger theme of happiness. As I look back over the summer worship guide, it seems like it came from a long time ago. Now as I am seeking to get back into a rhythm of life which includes worship and ministry with you and I look over these themes, I wonder what the old me was thinking. My mood was playful when I put this together. Playful and oblivious. In some ways, I was like a child, really, without a care in the world. That isn’t true, of course. I had many cares. They just seem so distant now.

I am no longer oblivious. I have seen something. I have seen the excruciating fragility of this precious life. You don’t come away from that unchanged. I hope and I trust and actually I know that that old playfulness will peek around the corner at me now and again. Thankfully, as we have been surrounded by the light that as Jesus says “is over all things” that  playfulness hasn’t abandoned me. It isn’t the playfulness of a puppy but of an older dog who for a moment forgets her aches and pains and remembers the old, familiar games.

Scripture is not written for the young. The guardians of scripture try to force it on the young. “Read this, it is good for you.” But you have to have experienced some fragility before its light reveals the places within you that were formerly hidden in darkness.

This text for example. Jesus says,
“Split a piece of wood; I’m there. Lift up a stone, and you’ll find me there.”

As you know I spent my childhood on a farm in Whitehall, Montana. I split a fair share of wood in the Summer and Fall to use for the wood furnace during the Montana winters. In Spring, after the field was plowed, disked, and harrowed we would hitch an old hay trailer to the tractor and pull it through the field. We would pick the stones that had been turned up and pile them on the trailer. Then we unloaded those stones in a pile on the edge of the field. As I split wood and lifted up stones, I really can’t say that I saw Jesus.
Split a piece of wood; I’m there. Lift up the stone, and you’ll find me there.

What is he talking about?

I know there are people who have seen the face of Jesus in the clouds, or on a tree or in their oatmeal. I found this article that was written just this week in the Christian Post:
An elderly man at an adult daycare in Texas says when he was having his bacon and egg breakfast taco, he noticed the face of Jesus on the flour tortilla staring back at him. He showed it to others to confirm, and the news of the "miracle" spread.

Ernesto Garza, 80, has now tucked away a half-eaten breakfast taco with an image of Jesus Christ, carefully wrapped in foil, in the refrigerator at La Amistad Adult Daycare in Beeville, Texas, and intends to preserve it for as long as he can.

Like any other morning, Garza sat down with his taco at the daycare's cafeteria and unwrapped it. But that morning, he decided to eat only the inside of the taco. As he was poking around, he noticed a face on the charred flour tortilla staring back at him.

"I looked at it for five minutes," Garza was quoted as saying. Then he showed it to a friend sitting next to him and asked what she thought the face on the tortilla looked like. Garza's friend looked at it and jumped from her seat. "Jesus," she said.

Soon, everyone at the daycare was in the cafeteria to have a look at the face of Jesus, followed by a pouring of phone calls by media outlets.

"Here's the eyes, nose, mouth, mustache," he told KRIS-TV.

"I consider it a blessing because it's unique," Angie Rodriguez, the daycare's director, stated. She also said she had prayed the previous night for a sign from God to reassure her in the midst of a crisis in her life. The "miracle," she said, touched her life. "We believe God works in mysterious ways."

For Garza, it was "a blessing from God."

Jesus said,
“Split a piece of wood; I’m there.
Lift up the stone, and you’ll find me there.
Unwrap your breakfast taco and you’ll see me there.”

I am not an expert on the Gospel of Thomas or on the philosophies that shaped its texts. Nor am I an expert in the authenticity of Jesus sightings. I don’t know what Jesus or the author of Thomas was thinking, but Taco Jesus probably wasn't it.

But you know, people do experience the holy and the sacred in ways that are open for them. There is a sense of longing for the sacred amidst our ordinary lives.  Consider life day in and day out in La Amistad Adult Daycare Center in Beeville, Texas.  For most of the residents, this is the last stop before exit.  I'll bet they could use a little divine intervention. Good for the director of the center to call in the media, make a miracle out of this, and brighten up these lives. Why not? It is holy playfulness.

Good for those of you who each day, make and celebrate miracles and make a big fuss over others in a playful and joyful way.

Last night I was at the Johnson City Cardinals ball game. In between innings they have games for the kids. One of the games is to be the first to put on jersey and a helmet and run to slap the hand of the guy with the microphone. In this contest, there were two boys. One of the kids was able-bodied and the other was in a wheelchair. The able bodied kid took his time, purposely fumbled with the jersey and helmet so the boy in the wheelchair would win.

Those little miracles of kindness happen all the time. Peter Mayer in his song, “Holy Now” writes:
…the challenging thing becomes
Not to look for miracles
But finding where there isn't one

We long for the sacred and the holy. We long for the story of Moses confronted by God in the bush that burns but is not consumed to be true. We long for the miracle of Jesus turning the boy's lunch of bread and fish into a feast for 5,000 to happen today. We want to see Jesus in his glory on the mountaintop as did Peter, James, and John. In a similar story from the Hindu tradition, Krishna gives Arjuna eyes to see as God sees and he is transported to view the cosmos in a way he has never seen before. He is confronted by the holy and his life is transformed.  We want that.

Those are the stories of scripture. They are not repeated literally in our lives, but they speak to the experience of the holy that we glimpse when we are open and vulnerable to it.  Now we might see it in acts of kindness when this ordinary world with its excruciating fragility is embraced by the light of love and human compassion. In that light, wood, stones, and even breakfast tacos become experiences of the holy.


Sunday, August 5, 2012

Finding Yourself and Loving What You Find (8/5/12)

Finding Yourself and Loving What You Find
John Shuck

First Presbyterian Church
Elizabethton, Tennessee

August 5, 2012

You are the light of the world.
You are the salt of the earth.

The Lord lives in the heart of every creature.
He turns them around and round upon the wheel of his Maya.
Take refuge utterly in him.
By his grace you will find supreme peace,
and the state which is beyond all change.
Bhagavad Gita 18:61-62

I have often said that if Jesus, Krishna, Buddha, and other true
Emissaries of God came together, they would not quarrel,
but would drink from the same one cup of God-communion.
--Paramahansa Yogananda

It has been six weeks since I preached my last sermon. This is the longest I have been out of the pulpit since before we moved here seven years ago. My last sermon here on June 24th seems like and really is from a different world, a different life.

We have felt the embrace of love and compassion from this congregation. From the first day that we received our tragic news, you all have been there for us and continue to be here for us. Do know that Bev, Katy, and I are very, very grateful to all of you for your love and support. We have been held by the larger community and by the friends we know from places we have lived previously. Bev and Katy have been embraced from friends at their workplaces. Complete strangers pray for us.

Katy has been back to her work for several weeks now. Bev went back to school this past week and greets students this coming week. Thanks to Don Steele for leading Sunday services these previous two weeks, I have been able to ease into a rhythm of sorts at church and in worship.

Today I am honored and privileged to be in the pulpit and to administer the sacrament of communion with you, my friends. This is a sacred space and a sacred time.

I have no idea what I am doing. I guess that is not unusual.

I don’t know what I am supposed to do or how to do it. I wrote in the White Spire that I hope to follow a path between two extremes. On one hand to avoid pretending that I can fulfill my calling as a minister as if my personal loss has no bearing on it, and on the other hand to avoid misusing the pulpit as my own group therapy. That seems to make sense, but I don’t know. I really don’t have a lot of rules about this. We’ll see what happens.

I do write some posts on my blog. That is a personal medium that kind of works for me. Feel free to read it, but I ask you not to read too much into it. It is one way I process a lot of things. Since Zach’s death, I use it to address aspects of grief that I feel comfortable writing about publicly.

That isn’t the only way. I won’t speak for Bev and Katy, but do know that we are doing what we need to do and getting the support we need socially and professionally. I know that you wonder what you can do for us and I am sure that you would like to ease our pain and that you probably feel helpless to do so. That’s real. I don’t know what to do to ease my pain and I feel helpless too. So we are in that same boat. But we are floating.

I also know that our grief can trigger the grief of others. Our experience has and will bring up emotions of loss that many have experienced. Perhaps this is true for you. I hope that you can be real with that. One of the things you might do as an individual is to pay attention to your own feelings of loss. I hope you can find a way to share that. Feel free to talk to me about that. I would like that.

One of the many things that was done in these past few weeks that I appreciated was the adult forum on grief that I heard Carol Ann McElwee led. It might be a good idea to have more of those kinds of forums.

Harriet Baker put a book in my mailbox courtesy of the Morris-Baker Funeral Home that has been really helpful. I would recommend this book to anyone, How To Go On Living When Someone You Love Dies. It is good solid truth about grief and loss. The author is psychologist Dr. Therese Rando. It validated so much of what I was feeling.

Maybe one of the things we can do as a congregation is to respond to our personal loss by becoming even more aware of the losses we all suffer and how we grieve them in unique ways. I know I would feel good to know that something helpful and healing could come out of this.

The sermon theme for this summer is happiness. I decided to stick with it. If happiness is real it is going to have to be tough and persistent. It has to be as the hymn says,  
“O joy that seekest me through pain.”

One aspect of joy is the awareness that we have something of divinity about us. We have a sacred dimension, perhaps a vertical dimension that transcends, permeates, and embraces all of our being.

I think this is what Jesus discovered when he said,
“You are the light of the world.”
“You are the salt of the earth.”

Or as Krishna said,
“The Lord lives in the heart of every creature.”

We are more than the sum of our body parts.
This is true whether we feel it or not.
Every life is a gift.
This is true whether that person knows it or not.
No matter what, Love will not let us go.

For the past month I have felt a physical burning in my chest, as if my heart has been emptied. It is hollow.  It is a hollow pain.

What does that mean to be hollow in the heart? 

This week I chose for one of our readings the poem from Hafiz about stealing the flute from Krishna. As I was writing this sermon I was curious about the significance of Krishna’s flute. I am sure that there are many, many meanings, but one I found that I particularly liked is this. It speaks to me of the meaning and possibility of this emptiness in my heart:
If you get rid of your ego and become like a hollow reed flute, then the Lord will come to you, pick you up, put his lips and breathe through you and out of the hollowness of your heart, the captivating melody will emerge for all creations to enjoy.