On Drumming And Holiness: Getting Out Of The Way

I remember Neil Peart (the famous drummer of RUSH) talking about what he learned by taking drum lessons from the old master teacher Freddie Gruber.  Neil had already achieved great fame many times over for his drumming, but he was willing to learn more.  So he took some lessons.  He learned a new approach to playing that involved more circular, fluid movements and less aggressive “striking down” on the drum for every beat.  As a result, his playing gained a more natural feel.  Neil described it as “me getting out of the way of what the sticks were naturally trying to do.”  I liked that description because it put words to something I had experienced in my own playing.  There are times when I feel I am working for every beat. Then there are times when the rhythm flows naturally.  In those natural moments, it is almost as if the sticks know where to go and I am following them.  My grip is relaxed enough to allow the sticks to rebound as they want to, yet firm enough not to drop them.  I, the drummer, am not “in the way” of the sticks.

Tonight, I was listening to Fr. Larry Richards being interviewed on EWTN about his new book on surrender.  There were a couple things he mentioned that resonated with me as he commented on the meaning of holiness and surrender.

Surrender is not “giving up.” Surrender is laying down one’s life for others.  It involves placing oneself third on a list of priorities.  God comes first, then others, then me.  Surrender is spiritual strength.

About holiness he said that deciding to be holy and then setting about to accomplish the task of holiness is heresy.  Such an approach is self-centered as it becomes all about me and my holiness.  Holiness is not something I can accomplish.  Next, he said something that immediately called to mind the drum lessons of Neil Peart.  “Holiness is me getting out of the way so that Christ within me can work.”  As a drummer, if I get in the way of the sticks, my playing suffers.  As a Christian, if I get in the way of Christ, my holiness suffers.  As a drummer, I have to relinquish just enough control so as to not interfere with the natural flow of the rhythm.  As a Christian, I must surrender all control in order for the holiness of Christ to work through me.

Then Fr. Larry mentioned the following verse:

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.  I do not frustrate the grace of God; for if righteousness comes from the law, then Christ is dead in vain.  (Galatians 2:20-21)

Lord, help me to get out of your way, so your natural holiness can flow.

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