There’s an old story that may not be true about a monk that trapped a demon in his cell. The demon begged release, and the monk said that he would release him only if the demon sang the songs of the angels, which the demon had sung prior to the fall. The demon protests but finally gives in. As the demon sings, he is transfigured back into his original angelic being and is saved from hell. That is a very brief rendition of the story, and I have no way of knowing if it is true or not; however, I sincerely believe it is a true story about me.
I realized at church today that I continually take parts of myself and lock them away in secret cells within me. I judge, label, deny and demonize them, and I definitely do not want others to know of them. These could be my sinful passions, appetites gone awry, or dark thoughts and deeds. I certainly have enough self-loathing, self-doubt, and insecurities to fill countless inner cells.
Now, unlike the story above, these parts of me are not demons. They are the broken pieces of me that Christ through his Church desires to heal. One avenue of healing I firmly believe in is coming to church and singing. I often show up to church filled with the world’s rhythms and messages, but just as the demon was restored through worship, we are likewise restored. For me, one of the most beautiful parts of the liturgy is the thrice-holy hymn. I will always remember one of the first liturgies I attended when I heard this hymn. I felt chills, teared up, and felt the presence of heaven around me.
The liturgy is filled with angelic hymns such as this, and we are invited to open up our hearts and minds to let the light of Christ transfigure every darkened place. Do you know what the crowds said to Jesus at another dark place, at Lazarus’ tomb? They said, “Come and see.” They said the exact phrase that was said earlier in the gospel by the disciples about meeting Jesus, “Come and see.” The crowds meant, “Come and see death.” The disciples meant, “Come and see life.” We too can always say to Jesus, “Come and see the darkness, death, and despair that is in me,” but he will always reply, “Come and see the light, life, and love that is in me.”
What do you still have locked away inside of you that needs healing? Do you define yourself as anything other than as Christ’s beloved? Have you ever come to Church to sing about it? You can allow the music, mystery, and mercy to transfigure you. You do not have to be defined by what demonizes you, but rather be defined by He that seeks to delight in you, deify you, and call you His beloved.