©Joy Dunlap https://joydunlap.com

Sometimes a delay gives us time and space to open our ears to the music inside us.

The announcement penetrated the din of the airport cacophony, wiping out my previous anticipation of getting home on time from an emotional week related to a family member’s hospitalization.

Mechanical problem. Gate change. Plane change. If you travel by air, you’ve likely heard those announcements before.

Shortly after we moved like a pack to the new gate nearby, another announcement came – flight delay. Limited seats existed in the gate area so people overflowed into the walkway standing and waiting.

Walking a few feet away to escape the chaos, I heard it – beautiful, toe-tapping violin. The closer I moved to the lively and lyrical sounds, my stress level began to drop. Drawn into the music, my mood changed from tired and frustrated to feeling like I had been invited into a unexpected concert. Dressed in black, her brunette ponytail swaying from side to side as she moved the bow across the instrument, the violinist seemed transported to another place — and she was taking me there too. A place where music and peace lift the heart…where rhythmic beats flood the soul.

Unfortunately, few gathered to watch and listen. Many rushed by – never hearing, never seeing, never experiencing. They crossed in front of the performer, in front of travelers who had stopped to watch.

They missed the moment. And, in some cases, they blocked others who were trying to enjoy it.

Some 15 feet or so away, more than 150 people stood or sat at my departure gate, staring at their cell phones, glancing at their watches, or looking at the departure screens for the latest announcement on the delay, oblivious to the beauty, the music, and the delight only steps from them.

Relaxed and smiling after enjoying a few pieces by the talented performer, I began walking back towards the gate when the instrumental chords of Leonard Cohen’s familiar song Hallelujah tickled my ears.

Turning back, I walked towards the music.

Now Cohen’s song (popularized by John Cale and Jeff Buckley – and later Rufus Wainwright in Shrek) isn’t a hymn (although there are a couple of Biblical references), nor is it Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus from the Messiah, but when I heard the refrain of Hallelujah, Hallelujah, my soul turned to the Lord in joyful worship. *

Here in this busy international airport, hearing the violin chorus of Hallelujah, I felt embraced by God, and my heart overflowed with thankfulness for His presence and compassion for this weary traveler. At the same time, a sense of sadness came over me for those who weren’t – who aren’t – touched by the joy found in Him.

On the journey of life, emotional ups and downs in relationships, heartaches over long-term health issues, and job challenges can deafen us from hearing the music in us and surrounding us. Like the fast-paced travelers who missed the uplifting music, we have to guard that we don’t become too harried, too hurried, too heartsick or too hunkered down in our own stuff that we miss the sounds and sights God offers on the path to lift our spirits.

An unexpected delay on life’s journey can allow us – if we’re listening – to have a memorable moment with God.

Hallelujah indeed.

Can you think of a special time when music united you with God?
Is it possible you’ve missed a wondrous experience because you were too stressed, too tunnel-visioned, too rushed, or too absorbed? How can you prevent that happening again?
Could an action you took or a choice you made in the past have blocked or obstructed an encounter for others?
What favorite song or hymn has special meaning for you?

Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth, burst into jubilant song with music;
make music to the LORD with the harp, with the harp and the sound of singing.  Psalm 98:4-5


The talented violinist performing so beautifully in the Atlanta airport was Michelle Winters.
*Christian lyrics for “Hallelujah” were written by Kelley Mooney in 2006 to perform at an Easter mass. She later secured the rights from Leonard Cohen to record her moving rendition depicting the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ.

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Life is Better When It’s Full – Joy-full, Thank-full, Purpose-full and Friend-full!

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