“I like the silent church before the service begins, better than any preaching” - Emerson

Why does the space of a church feel holy when it is empty?

I have spent many hours inside empty churches playing music. I would place a chair in front of the alter and play. Fingers on strings, strings on wood and vibrations that I could get lost in. I wonder why, as artists, we seek an audience when the quiet time of isolation brings the greatest joy? These are the moments of non-separation, in which you feel more like a vessel for the music than a player of sounds. “Go into your inner room and pray” - Jesus. Is that how Jesus is teaching us to experience the holiest of holy?

I watch as my fingers move up and down the fret board. I watch as my right hand plucks and picks the strings. I listen as the sound fills the space. This creates a feeling of surrender, utter undefinable surrender. I could not tell if the sound was coming from my fingers on the strings or if the sound was coming out of the air into my guitar.

Those moments of music are the only times that I have felt the presence. Simply the presence, no further truth needed. From that quiet-sound-of-music the presence would feel like a perception-of-truth that would create a world that only I could see.

It has been about five years since I have played music inside a church. I miss the community, the fellowship, the congregation singing back at you. Most of all I miss the perfect sweetness of the presence, and that is better than any preaching.