Thursday, July 28, 2011

This one goes to Eleven...


Quick... what movie is that from?  :-P

Every time I feel like I know the limits of...

1)  how much God loves me
2)  how good life can be
3)  how funny Ali and Ang are
4)  how fulfilling my work is
5)  how lucky we are to be having an EB free baby in 3 and a half weeks...

... God lightly puts me in my place by SMASHING those limits into little pieces!

He did it again today.

I was invited to sit in on the Palliative Care Team rounds this morning at the hospital.  I am currently seeing one of their patients and having great success using music to dramatically decrease this person's pain, anxiety, and in particular, nausea.  Well, I was given a royal introduction and treated with the utmost respect and appreciation from the doctor, the fellow, the resident, the student, the nurse, the chaplain, and both social workers.  It was like I died and went to "inter-disciplinary team heaven."


Those who are called to palliative care have something in them - a certain type of compassion - that allows them to be with people in their toughest times, and in their last times.  I felt it in me when my dad died in hospice.  I knew that if I could use my God-given musical skills to be the soundtrack of someone's transformation from life to afterlife, well, that would be simply the highest use of my gifts on this planet.  THAT is what set the wheels of music therapy in motion in me way back in 1997.  It would take another 11 years to open my doors as SONIC DIVINITY Music Therapy Services, but those doors are open, and I get the privilege and honor of sitting in a room this morning with eight others who have found their calling on the same road.  What an extraordinary group to spend an hour with.  I was welcomed with open arms to attend any rounds I want.  What an honor to serve their patients!  To use music to heal, to silence pain with melody... I don't work.  My mantra is, I get paid to play and pray.

Life is good.

One of my patients today had a bible in the room, and whenever I see a bible in the room, I always ask if the patient would like to hear some hymns.  The patient agreed, and I played a series of hymns, including  "Here I am, Lord."  I was so moved by the lyrics today, I could barely get through the song without crying.  Here's why...

I've stopped going to church.

Yup.  There, I said it.  It's my big secret.  I just haven't been able to go back.  We've tried it a couple of times, and it just drops off the radar.  I make up reasons why, and all the while, we miss out on that wonderful feeling of coming together with a community of believers.  I've been carrying some buried guilt about this, and today, as I sang this song, I really started to feel bad.  In the verses, God is asking "whom shall I send to minister and bear witness?" to which the chorus replies, "Here I am, Lord."  I started that old guilt trip on myself, when God essentially put his finger on my lips to say SHHH... and he said,

"Tim, it's 2 o'clock on a Thursday afternoon, look outside.  See the traffic buzzing down the freeway?  Now see where you are.  You are EXACTLY where I want you."

"I guess I am here, Lord, you're right."

Even now, writing this, thoughts of "... but I still feel bad about not..."  sneak in.

Again.... SHHH...

"There are plenty to minister music to the church on Sunday, but you were the only music therapist in UCI today."

What can we all take away from this?

Go wherever God deploys you, not to where you think you should go.  If he sends you to a soup kitchen, go.  To a homeless shelter, go.  If he instructs you to give the bum on the corner your last 5 dollar bill, do it.  Assist in a classroom at your kid's school... think that isn't his will being done?  Think again.  God appreciates us all coming together on Sunday, so long as we are deploying all week out into the field to be his hands on the ground.  God is in every good thing, every good deed, every good thought, every good action, every smile, every eye contact, every "Hello," every generous compliment, every selfless act, AND every act of self care.  Don't miss that last one.  God doesn't need martyrs.  Wanna care for God's people?  Are YOU not one of them?  Make sure to start with you.  Care for God's people by caring for your SELF.

God night.


  1. Tim, you couldn't have said it better.
    Love & prayers,
    Carla Spradlin
    Taylors, S'

  2. Tim,

    Well, well. You just taught me something there. All those months when I was feeling oddly inappropriate because I didn't share your faith. All those apologetic comments on my 'From the rooftops' messages, where I blithered on about not being sure of my spiritual alignment. All those wasted, panicky moments of feeling less able to be part of your lives because I felt I lacked a faith like yours.

    You have just taught me something very important. It seems I'm on the right track after all. I don't go to church. I don't save my Sundays. I don't call him God.

    But I do try to give my time and my ear and my patience and my love to people who come my way, because they always cheer me just as much as I could ever cheer them. Perhaps God is in there somewhere.

    It's an odd night tonight - this evening I picked my daughter up from her friend's house and we drove home, travelling past a fancy house on the hill nearby (and our community is not fancy). This house is often rented for movies, it never seems lived in. Tonight, people were pouring in, valet parking was in place. The attendees were stylish, mostly Asian, as they walked in and I attempted to manoeuvre past. As I write, hours later, glorious Asian music is drifting across the valley between us - sitars in the Canadian night sky. It is beautiful. I hope people allow it to filter into the night a while longer. It reminds me of my former life in a more culturally diverse Europe (where I once lived).

    Music works its magic.

    And you have just made me realise that I am on a right track towards being and doing good, however one defines the God that lives in my world.

    Music can come upon us from odd sources. Witness what I hear tonight. Spirituality can come upon us from odd sources. Witness what I read tonight.

    Meanwhile:- Julian - in 3.5 weeks? Oh, my word...

    From the rooftops, with a glorious sitar accompaniment curving over the water and skirting the mountains of Vancouver, with thanks to you, Tim, for finding ways of explaining the big stuff in ways that make so much sense,


  3. Tim ~

    Thank you for sharing with those of us who may never meet you. Your writings are fantastic, inspiring and make me turn inward to what lies inside my heart. I love the photos of Bella at the end of each post. Every time I see a new photo, I just want to jump into the picture and hug and kiss that beautiful little face. I don't know exactly what it is about her but she just melts my heart every time I see her.

    So happy Julian is well on his way...I am sure Bella has done her best to prepared him for the good things that await him here.

    God Bless you and your family.

  4. Thank you! Words escape me right now other than thank you.


  5. I love that song, too! Unfortunately I can never get through it when it is sung as I cry so hard. I can only imagine how beautiful it sounds when you sing/play it.


  6. Tim,
    I am finally delurking myself. I don't even know what to say, you and this blog are just good stuff. I felt I had to write because you are so right about people who work in palliative care. Most folks don't even know what it is. My husband works in palliative care and everyday I wonder how he does it. Yet he is upbeat and people always give him a terrified look when they find out what he does. They always ask him "How do you do it?" And his answer is always, "It is an honor, I am so rewarded." It is true about music. People don't get that either. He had a patient once that requested music be played in his room continuously and even after death. He said his soul needed to dance!
    Peace and blessings,

  7. As Jack loves to say, "Wherever we are, God is." Love you guys. (And a message to all you Boschee lurkers -- post something and make your wonderful selves known!)