Each year during August I give sermons about the musical icons of our culture who reflect or inform our understanding of things like life, love, ambition and desire.
This August I will give sermons about the Eagles, the Spinners, James Ingram, Natalie Cole, and k.d. lang.
Being that I just turned 65, I'm going through a tunnel of nostalgia, and while there is no light at the end of this tunnel, there is an ongoing display of memories and emotions that help me understand my beliefs about love, forgiveness, fear and enthusiasm.
Take k.d. lang's lyrics and haunting performance of "Constant Craving."
I love this line: "Maybe a great magnet pulls/All souls towards truth/Or maybe it is life itself/That feeds wisdom/To its youth."
When I hear this song I ask myself what is pulling me toward what I think I want. Then I listen to Natalie Cole and I hear that duet she did with her dad, Nat King Cole, "Unforgettable."
So what is so unforgettable? Nothing less than all the opportunities I could have taken to love, forgive or nurture, and I didn't. So I rewind and remember that the opportunity never goes away.
All I have to do is listen to James Ingram and find "One Hundred Ways" to love. Of course, that can only be done when I have achieved a "Peaceful Easy Feeling," like the Eagles sing about.
So enough of the metaphors and analogies; what I also talk about is the lives of these artists and how they follow a pattern of divine unfolding.
Take Natalie Cole. Her music director and pianist, Josh Nelson, will be sharing his talents and playing some of her greatest hits at our center's 9:30 and 11:15 a.m. services Sunday.
The thing I see in Natalie, besides her great talent, is her ability to deliver the feeling of the music and its lyrics. She holds an audience spellbound because she has dedicated her life to what she does. I know that may sound corny, but dedication is essential to living a happy and joyous life. In fact, all of these artists are dedicated to what they do.
Dedication lends itself to confidence.
Take k.d. lang commenting on her idol, Peggy Lee: "I became a complete junkie for her …. She represents an era that is leaving us, one where vocals were king."
I consider k.d. lang to be one of the best singers I've ever heard. Every phrase is carefully molded and fits perfectly within the context of her songs. Could we say as much about ourselves and the way we think about ourselves? Are we dedicated to being the best person we can be?
Confidence is the game-changer that few people understand. Most people think confidence comes from success — it doesn't. Confidence is the byproduct of practice, dedication and commitment. And just because you're confident doesn't mean that people will understand you.
Ralph Waldo Emerson commented that most great spiritual people were misunderstood: Socrates, Jesus, Moses and others.
What is important to note is the necessity for each to live free from the temptation of becoming self-absorbed. This is a condition that limits your capacity to receive and grow. Self-absorbed people lack the capacity to hear music, create something new, or respond in an original manner.
On the other hand, people who are consciously aware of who they are and their connection with God hear the celestial sounds of the universe. More importantly, they respond to God's call by creating beautiful music, art, literature and joy.
Yes, I said joy! There is no substitute for joy, peace or love.
All three require practice, commitment and dedication. You can have the life you want if you're willing to practice the principles that will bring you the peace of mind you seek. Principles like love, peace and joy, define behavior and change the way you think and what you attract.
JIM TURRELL is the founder and pastor of the Center for Spiritual Living Newport-Mesa.