Today’s Word: Jazz

 In Featured, Pastor Paul's Blog

By Pastor Paul Gauche

Today’s Word: ‘JAZZ’ as in… life, as with jazz, has a learning curve. As we enter September after six months of daily challenges that have tested us to the core, there is still so much we’re learning about how to live well together, how to play well together. And at the end of the day, that’s the goal: to live and play well together.

As we move into the Fall of this year, we’re continuing to learn how to listen well together, how to interact well together, how to converse well together as we grapple with deeply complex issues. We’re learning how to navigate a global pandemic as we struggle with the loss of so much human life. We’re learning how to talk about race and justice and racial injustice as we come to grips with decades upon decades, even generations of painful history. We’re learning how our country will hold an election unlike any most of us have experienced as we face the repercussions of the painful binary mindset of winners and losers.

Yet, in the midst of all of this there is a new agility that we’re learning about. We’re learning how to do old things in new ways; familiar things in unfamiliar ways. We’re moving into new rhythms of life that we never dreamed we’d be learning. It’s a little like jazz; a lot like playing jazz together. It’s time for a jazz lesson.

In a typical jazz piece – which seems like an oxymoron because Jazz, by definition, is anything but typical, players, musicians must agree on a few things.

First, everyone agrees on a key. The key is the major or minor scale (a collection of notes) around which the music, the jazz revolves. It’s a really a good thing when everyone plays in the same key. This doesn’t mean that everyone plays the exact same notes at the same time,. But it does mean that everyone is committed to creating some harmony. When players don’t play together in the same key, the sound isn’t very pretty. In fact, it will sound very unappealing. When players do play together, something transcendent happens.

Second, the players agree on a tempo. The tempo is the speed – how fast of slow the piece of music is played. If everyone plays at different speeds it’s going to be chaotic and frustrating not only for those who play but also for those who are listening. Not only that, but it doesn’t make sense if one player gets to the end of the piece while others are still somewhere in the middle, and still others are lingering around the beginning.

Third, musicians agree on musical architecture. This is the basic structure of the piece of music they’re playing together. On some basic level there is a beginning, a middle and an end. That’s putting it really simply. Jazz can get very complex. Once the music starts, everyone knows where they’re going and along the way they support one another. One leads, others follow and support and encourage. But then the leadership shifts, and another player leads. All of the players welcome this movement; they support this shared sense of leadership. You may not always know when it’s your turn to lead, but here’s the deal: we all have a part to play and when it’s our turn to lead, we just have to take the lead and play our best.

Finally, everyone must agree to listening to one another. The key to playing jazz well is listening well together. Nothing happens, nothing works if there is no listening.

Today, just for today, practice a little jazz in your relationships. Beginning by listening, find the key that leads to some harmony. Play together, don’t rush. And remember this: when you agree to begin together and find a way to end well together, something transcendent happens.


Paul Gauche is the Pastor of Life Transitions at Prince of Peace. His posts are part of his #100days50words project, where be blogs about a different word each day. You can follow his project on Instagram (@pgauche), or on his blog, Thriving Rhythms.


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