IVP - Strangely Dim - What Color Is Your Experiment?

September 4, 2008

What Color Is Your Experiment?

Last week several of us around Likewise Books participated in a little experiment, inspired by the fine folks at Word Made Flesh. Each of us would pick a song that we would listen to exclusively for an entire workday. Then we would blog about the experience--what, if anything, we discovered about the song, our workplace, our coworkers or ourselves. Keep an eye out here for those posts. This one is Stacey's.

When Dave sent around the challenge to listen to the same song for eight hours, I thought, Sure, I want to be part of the cool kids Likewise crowd. Why not? I quickly told Dave that I was in.


Then the panic set in. What could I possibly listen to all day without going insane? A quick perusal through my iTunes gave me an answer. The one album that has consistently stayed in my collection for years without growing tiresome is Rich Mullins's A Liturgy, A Legacy, and a Ragamuffin Band. My favorite song from the album is "The Color Green."


Why does this album never grow old to me? Perhaps it's because Mullins was an incredible musician and a Christian writer who actually understood poetry and never used tired biblical phrases. Perhaps it's because during Rich's last two years of life, I lived thirty miles away from him on the Navajo reservation. His album sustained me through long lonely drives across the red desert, reminding me that God really was good and not abandoning me in a thirsty land.


So I expected that listening to "The Color Green" all day would be an uplifting spiritual experience. And the first couple of listens were. The song starts with a sustained note on the keyboard and Rich's voice hauntingly floating in saying:


And the moon is a sliver of silver

Like a shaving that fell on the floor of a Carpenter's shop

Every house must have its builder

And I awoke in the house of God.


From there the song builds into a jig and a dancing chorus praising God for the beauty of his creation, and asking him to "look down upon this winter wheat and be glad that you have made/ blue for the sky and the color green that fills these fields with praise." Every time I hear those phrases (and I mean every one of the 125 times I listened to them this last week), they make my heart sing and dance. I feel warmth at being in the Lord's workshop, and I see the cornfields of Indiana where Rich Mullins grew up (right next to where I live now).


However, as the day went on, I developed an incredible ability not to notice that the song was playing. At the risk of overspiritualizing, it struck me that I'm often like that in respect to my spiritual life. It's horribly easy to simply tune out the music of my Lord and go about the business of my day-to-day tasks. But the poetry of those phrases caught me periodically for just a moment and reminded me to wonder and lift up my "arms in a blessing for being born again." (Really, the lyrics are amazing.)


While I started to be barely cognizant of the song playing on my computer, I had several coworkers float in and out of my office. It seemed to be a challenging, emotional day for several of them, and I found myself offering to pray with them on the spot. That isn't something I usually do in my workday; I might say I will pray but am rarely prompted to do it immediately. I finally had to attribute it to the fact that I was being bathed in music that was causing my heart to be softened and moldable and ready to enter into the dance of the penny whistle and bodhran of "The Color Green."

Posted by Dave Zimmerman at September 4, 2008 8:34 AM Bookmark and Share


Way to go Stacey! Congrats on listening to a song for 125 times in one day! I'm sorry I missed out on the action, though I can usually only listen to one song on repeat when that song is new to me. :-)

Anyway, while y'all were listening to your favorite songs on repeat, I was in Alaska, marveling at the grandeur of God's creation. Our native Alaskan tour guide in Icy Strait Point (a remote stop for the cruise ship) told us that when we stepped off the ship, we became part of nature again--meaning that we became part of the food chain again!

However, as I was taking in the beauty and vastness of Alaska and listening to our tour guide narrate about the native Tlingit's means of survival and reliance on the land, I started to think that maybe atheism has taken such a strong hold on Western society because we've so divorced ourselves from God's creation . . . because as I was out in this snowy wilderness, I started to wonder how anyone could NOT believe in God--or at least in some kind of intelligent designer.

Well, this is all slightly off the topic of your post, but it reminded me that music as well as nature can reconnect our disconnected hearts back to God.

Comment by: Elaina at September 5, 2008 10:51 AM

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Behind the Strangeness

Lisa Rieck is a reader and writer who likes to discuss good ideas over hot drinks and gets inspired by the sky. She takes in all kinds of good ideas as a proofreader for InterVarsity Press.

Rebecca Larson is a writer/designer/creative type who has infiltrated IVP's web department, where she writes and edits online content. She enjoys a good pun and loves the smell of freshly printed books.

David A. Zimmerman is an editor for Likewise Books and a columnist for Burnside Writers Collective. He's written three books, most recently The Parable of the Unexpected Guest. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/unexpguest. Find his personal blog at loud-time.com.

Suanne Camfield is a publicist for InterVarsity Press and a freelance writer. She floats ungracefully between work, parenting and writing, and (much to her dismay) finds it impossible to read on a treadmill. She is a member of the Redbud Writers Guild and blogs at The Rough Cut.

Likewise Books from InterVarsity Press explore a thoughtful, active faith lived out in real time in the midst of an emerging culture.

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