On Election Day this year, I was invited to play solo guitar at the polls—in this case, our lovely local Episcopal Church, St. Alban's, where just two days earlier I had performed J.S. Bach's Prelude, Fugue, and Allegro as an accompaniment to their Sunday service. It is sacred music to me, even if Bach didn't intend it to be; playing it always feels like taking a long walk through a beautiful landscape, God's handiwork.
Rev. Julie Wakelee-Lynch had the inspired idea to open up the St. Alban's sanctuary to voters as a place of meditation and prayer on a day rife with anxiety for many of us (myself included). I played for a half-hour or so in the courtyard between the sanctuary and the Parish Hall where the voting was taking place. I played Bach, I played some Celtic Airs, I played—optimistically—the Beatles' "Here Comes the Sun."
At the end of such a bitter and stressful campaign season, I was grateful for the chance to bring some music into that final, breathless moment before the decision was made. And that night, like most in our Bay Area liberal stronghold, I was deeply disappointed by the results. But throughout that difficult night, I tried to reach deep into the well of peace that Bach had given me earlier that day. In moments of stress and worry—so often needless, fleeting, or premature, but no less difficult for that knowledge—we need to take refuge in something timeless. Something impervious to the cares of the present, immune to our fears for an uncertain future. A flower turned toward the sun, a hug from a child, a few notes written to the glory of God in a distant century: there is healing, and hope, in all these things.
Composer Michael T Roberts shares his thoughts on writing, playing, and teaching music. Comments? Please e-mail Mike.