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Following Jesus

Making Music in the Eye of the Storm

March 17, 2020 by

There is something on everyone’s mind these days here in New York City. I try to be a person that does not worry too much but I find that stand to be tested. Where will this all end? The Gospel tells us to be carefree but also in places warns us to be careful. I’ve never been so close to the line that separates these two equally important qualities for so long a time. 

Back in February a friend invited a few from our Harlem House community to a cello concert he and his brother were putting on in a brownstone on the East Side. A professional cellist, Michael Fitzpatrick is well known for using his instrument as a messenger of peace to help people get in tune with life as it should be. When this mini-concert was planned, little did anyone know how timely it would be. When the first guests started cancelling out of worry of getting COVID-19, my friend had to work at accepting the degree of fearfulness that seemed to be guiding people’s decision. As a doctor, he understood the sense of vulnerability that was gripping so many friends suddenly, and the validity of such feelings. But he also believed his music might be just the cure they needed.


Last week the concert took place. After the guests had arrived, each one using an alternative to the handshake as we shared refreshments, we turned our attention to Michael and his cello. I consider my musical tastes to be fairly broad, but I wasn’t sure how I would take an hour of a single instrument playing. But when Michael introduced the recital by saying that he hoped that in the midst of the swirling world outside (and, yes, that day had certainly been one of those) we could go back to a time when people found strength and peace in community and music, he had me. The music, a medley ranging from Pink Floyd to Bach, did just that to my soul. So did being together with those few people united in silent listening for the evening. Peace in the eye of a storm. Afterward Michael told us he feels that instruments such as the cello can bring good vibes in places where they are needed. He feels that people often get “stuck inside” and need the freeing beauty of music. This is especially needed when people are in a crisis mindset, which is obviously not a great place to be. “Bach is more powerful now than ever,” he told us.

Play on, Michael, for the sake of the good spirit of community. May your music help us hold on to the rock as the world rages.


About the author

Tim, a member of the Bruderhof, an intentional Christian community

Tim Maendel

Tim Maendel lives at the Bruderhof house in Harlem, NY where he and his wife are house parents to a number of college...

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