Last night I went with Lucy, Eli and Liv to see Laura Mvula at Cambridge Corn Exchange (we were lucky enough to be stood right at the front!).
Her performance was wonderful in every way. (shout out to Liv for managing to get a copy of the song list from the guys on stage at the end)
But the thing we couldn’t stop talking about afterwards wasn’t her incredible musicality, but the emotion that colours her music. Her music is a glorious mix of emotions formulated in the most beautiful way: grief and hope, mourning and joy, brokenness and strength all thrown in together.
Whilst Laura was singing ‘Show me Love’ (my favourite song from the album ‘The Dreaming Room’), we watched as she slowly broke down in tears and couldn’t quite recover. It was a moment of such rawness, such exposure. Initially, as an audience we didn’t quite know how to respond, unsure of how much was part of her performance and at a distance where we felt simultaneously helpless, deeply sympathetic and also uneasy to be there witnessing such a moment of heartfelt sorrow.
Laura dealt with the situation so beautifully and gracefully, with openness, humour and grace – and then with incredible strength and dignity as she continued with the show. It made a deep impression on us. As we were chatting on the way home we talked about how that moment drew us closer to her and helped us to resonate with the heart of her music. We discussed how refreshing it was to have someone we esteem so highly acknowledge an instance in which cracks have suddenly appeared. How vulnerability invites intimacy. How strange it is that we attempt to keep up a pretence when we know that cracks appear in all of us.
I’ve been thinking how it is one of the most wonderful privileges to have someone let you stick around when the cracks appear. If you think of your closest friends, I’m sure that for each you could write a list of their ‘cracks’ – their insecurities, fears, sources of hurt. The more real the friendship, the more real the cracks.
And this is a beautiful thing. It’s when we drop our pretence that we can really love one another. When Laura had that moment onstage, we cheered and clapped her and people shouted ‘we love you Laura!’. Sometimes we find our best through coming to realise our (collective) worst.
And when the cracks appear, we have a choice. We can, of course, grow despairing, weary and bitter. Or we can choose to encourage each other and find our best in the midst of our worst, in the midst of all our cracks. We can choose to fix our eyes on the One who is in the business of mending cracks, who is in the business of bringing wholeness.
On Tuesday at HT’s student night, an excerpt of C.S. Lewis was shared. It is an excerpt that also features on day 1 of the C.S. Lewis daily readings book that I am working my way through. It’s very appropriate here. It goes like this:
No amount of falls will really undo us if we keep on picking ourselves up each time. We shall of course be very muddy and tattered children by the time we reach home. But the bathrooms are all ready, the towels put out, and the clean clothes in the airing cupboard. The only fatal thing is to lose one’s temper and give it up. It is when we notice the dirt that God is most present in us: it is the very sign of His presence.
So let the cracks appear. Let the worst of us bring the best. Let our lives be like Laura’s music – glorious mixes of grief and hope, mourning and joy, brokenness and strength. And where our cracks are our grief, mourning and brokenness, may hope, joy and strength shine through.
I know what I want to choose to do when the cracks appear.