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by David Jordan

Bagpipes and Life

… take hold of the life that really is life (I Timothy 6:19).

This scripture from I Timothy gets to the heart of the human journey. Our quest is to really claim, to take hold of life that really is life. Easier said than done. Countless books are written extolling the ways and tricks, ideas and gimmicks, insights and ancient wisdom. Authors keep writing. And we keep buying, searching for that key element that will help us solve that ultimate mystery: to find the life that really is life.

Funerals and Bagpipes

I have done a lot of funerals over the years. Several of these funerals incorporated this very odd looking and bizarre sounding instrument known as bagpipes.  For most, the verdict is simple: Either you love them, or you hate them.  A colleague and friend of mine once commented on his grandfather’s perspective:

“They’s two kinds of music I cain’t stand, and bagpipes is both of ’em.”

But, for some of us, bagpipes convey a mystical message that only this odd combination of sound can produce.  It is strangely, almost impossibly whimsical; yet, bagpipes also somehow simultaneously convey a deep sacredness.  And part of the tradition from the rough Scottish highlands is the valuable message the music of bagpipes implies: that life is both whimsical and sacred.

Bagpipes and Life

The pipes were often used when marching.  As a mobile instrument, the idea of a journey is woven into their very purpose.  And life is a journey.  So much of what we know and do, and who we are, is bound up in the odd complexities of being alive, balancing relationships and responsibilities, hopes and dreams, defeats and small victories. Tension exists, especially now, emerging out of the cracks and crannies of these strange times. Our journey continues, and in spite of the difficulties, we struggle to take hold of the life that really is life.

As you move through this day, imagine the sound of bagpipes accompanying your march.  Step boldly in cadence to the kind of life the Bible envisions.  Imagine each step as both sacred and whimsical, holy and light-hearted, elegantly eternal and solidly present.  Allow those bagpipes you hear in your head to make you smile. We are called to take life seriously; but we don’t always have to be serious. Try hard in all you do; but never take yourself too seriously. Learn from your mistakes. Listen more than you speak. And keep up that whimsical, sacred search for life that really is life.

Now imagine today unfolding before you in this way:

Lifted by grace

Sustained by love

Emboldened by faith

Encouraged by hope

Enriched by joy

Embraced by eternity

In the arms of God

And offered to the world:

A beautiful gift;

Whimsical; sacred;



Help us, Lord.  Give us the wisdom to live in hope and eternal expectation, while simultaneously embracing the goodness and wonder of our daily experiences, our everyday relationships, our casual encounters, good food, and the creative loveliness that surrounds us always.  Make us keenly aware of our current participation in your eternal life. And let us know: you are leading us into this abundant life; the life that really is life.




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