You may not know this about me, but I am a moderate Progressive Rock enthusiast. I am a big fan of the music of Yes, Rush, Genesis (early stuff), and various other artists who went through a Prog-Rock period in their musical tenure. I love the complexity of the music and admire, and am in awe of, progressive rocker’s technical skill and dexterity in doing things to their respective instruments that you would never hear in a Justin Bieber song…if any real instruments are used at all in the boy/haircut’s repertoire. As much of prog-rock is inspired by classical music a progressive rock work can take on symphonic form and results in really long songs. This, combined with beautiful melodies and lyrics that speak of philosophy, mythology and other mind-bending topics make this musical genre a favorite of mine.
I am writing this after having seen the latest configuration of “Yes” play at the iconic Tower Theatre in Philadelphia. They played one song from each of their first ten albums, you know the good ones. As I have practically memorized every note of every song from this discography the concert was familiar and exciting as I had little idea of what songs they would play. Of course I had two lists that I worked on with my brother with whom I saw the show. The lists were: the songs that I wanted them to play, and the songs that they most likely would play. We had to work out the timing of the ten songs, plus one encore, to make sure that we would be home at a reasonable hour because some of their songs take up whole album sides. If cd’s had been around in the early 1970’s I am certain that there would be 74 minute songs.
As it turned out, the actual set consisted of songs from both lists. Some songs were obvious as they had played them before in numerous concerts. Others were pleasant surprises, songs they had never played live in recent times, and the rest were as we had predicted. Regardless of any disappointment I might have felt, because they didn’t honor my wish list, the concert was great. I was in musical heaven for a few hours and this combination of anticipation, revelation, and satisfaction made for a fun evening. I would dare to say that a concert like this, for me, is a spiritual event.
So, why is this spiritual event different from all other spiritual events? Depending on where you daven (pray) a Shabbat service too can be a combination of anticipation, revelation and satisfaction. Like many cantors and rabbi’s, we choose from the set liturgy for an evening, morning, or afternoon service. One can anticipate which prayers will be recited. We make selections of music for each prayer based on what people know, familiar tunes, or what is new and current. When we introduce something fresh we are engaged in revealing a different nuance of a prayer or text. As spiritual leaders we hope that the choices we make, with English readings and teachings as well, will result in an inspiring and meaningful experience. We hope that everyone in attendance will have encountered something that brought spiritual satisfaction. Of course we can’t honor everyone’s wish list of liturgy but we can create a service with the elements of anticipation, revelation and satisfaction.
It occurs to me that life itself consists of that which we anticipate, the societal rites of passage and life cycles; that which is revealed to us, the unfolding of our lives and history; and hopefully, whether positive or negative, our life experiences, that can potentially satisfy. Like the songs on the radio, a concert setlist, or someone else’s playlist, life itself enfolds before us, a combination of these three elements. May the events and people in our lives be a source of anticipation and revelation and may we derive much satisfaction from them and may we all be a source of satisfaction to each other.