Thursday, October 14, 2010

A Non-Believer's Hallelujah

Yesterday morning while trying to summon the energy to get out of bed, I was thinking about the recent debate about appropriate UU worship music. Don’t ask me, my mind goes to weird places when trying to justify my body’s sloth. I started thinking about writing a blog post defending so-called 7/11 style praise music. I grew up with these songs, as well as hymns, and many of them will be engrained in my brain until I die. One simple song consisting of just the word Hallelujah repeated with a peaceful and almost lullaby like melody floated into my mind and just stayed there.

After sending Tall Daughter E off to school I had a few minutes to meditate before waking up Tiny Daughter M. As I sat down and tried to focus on my breath, that song just kept cycling through my thoughts and refused to go away. Since I had just been thinking about praise music as a form of religious chanting I decided to work with it instead of fighting it. I generally stay away from Christian terminology in my practices, but I wanted to see where this went so I used the song I couldn’t get rid of anyway as a chant.

Now I know, OK? I know what hallelujah really means. I know it is an exhortation to praise specifically the deity known as YHWH, a deity I reject. I hope that my intentional miss-use of the term doesn’t offend those who use it in a more traditional manner because I sure did appropriate the heck out of it and change its subjective meaning to my own needs.

Having said that… I really enjoyed the results of my experimentation. The melody is so familiar to me from childhood that I never had to think about it at all, which helped me to really be in the moment. The hallelujah that I breathed in and out me became an expression of deep gratitude for everything. I experienced amazement as the intricate interconnectivity of the universe and personal gratitude for my small existence and my part in it. It was a humbling and amazing moment. I don’t really know why this particular combination of notes and syllables worked for me so well. I don’t think there is any magic in the phrase itself, but maybe it is there in the memories.

Then I got up and rousted the daughter from bed because life goes on after the mat. All morning the memory of that moment stayed with me like the song. Hallelujah.


  1. Beautiful. I bet you & I could lead a very interesting discussion of mysticism & the non-believer.

  2. Thanks. What a good discussion idea. The book I just finished could be a help with that. More on that later.