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Bagpipes and Life

by David Jordan

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

I have been a part of several funerals over the years that incorporated bagpipes.  Either you love them and are moved by 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 and sacred at the same time.  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.

The pipes were often used when marching since they are a mobile instrument, so the idea of a journey is woven into their 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.

As you move through this day, imagine the sound of a bagpipe accompanying your march.  Imagine each step as both sacred and whimsical, holy and light-hearted, elegantly eternal and solidly present.  And finally, allow those bagpipes to make you smile and  to step boldly in cadence to the kind of life the God envisions: “the life that really is life”.


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