Monday, November 4, 2019

The Lazarus Effect

One can’t assume that people still know Bible stories, but the story of Lazarus is about a man who had been dead four days before Jesus comes to the tomb and resurrects him. It became a miracle that convinced the skeptics that Jesus was no ordinary guy. 

Yesterday in our rehearsal with 38 kids preparing to perform at the Orff Conference, another such miracle occurred. Watching the kids perform body percussion, we had an informal contest about who was the most alive, dynamic and expressive. The child who “won” surprised us all— I think his new nickname should be Lazarus.

This is someone who has been dead not four days, but four years in music class! He enters class with body language that shouts, “I am bored to tears. I have no interest in anything, no energy for anything. I make Eeyore look like the life of the party.” Truly. It was just plain depressing to be in the same room as him—frumpy, floppy, disengaged. If harnessed, the amount of energy he expended couldn’t power an electric candle for five seconds. But he did begin to study saxophone last year and there was a tiny spark that sometimes erupted if you looked really hard.

We were all surprised when he signed up for this performing group, but ever advocates of the resurrection of the human spirit and always faithful to the notion that kids (and adults) can wake up to their best versions of themselves, we accepted him on the condition that he continue saxophone lessons and honored all his commitments. It was a rocky beginning when he was slow to resume lessons and missed an early rehearsal because “he wanted to play with his friends.” We gave him one last chance and lo and behold, things began to change. We discovered there was actually a dance inside of that floppy body and an occasional smile that snuck out and some basically solid music skills. And then yesterday, he was looking good in that body percussion piece! Go figure.

These the kind of miracles the newspaper never reports and the number of followers who deeply believe in the power of music to awaken and revive are pretty small compared to the Christian Church. But that doesn’t make it any less real. The Lazarus story lives on and I have living proof. 

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