Whereas painters work with space - the croquet players on the lawn, behind them the dark foliage of the hedge, above them the sky - musicians work with time as one note follows another note the way tock follows tick.
Music both asks us and also enables us to listen to certain qualities of time - to the grandeur of time, says Bach, to the poignance of time, says Mozart, to the swing and shimmer of time, says Debussy, or however else you choose to put into words the richness and complexity of what each of them is wordlessly "saying."
We learn from music how to listen to the music of our own time - one moment of our lives following another moment the way the violin passage follows the flute, the way the sound of footsteps on the gravel follows the rustle of leaves in the wind which follows the barking of a dog almost too far away to hear.
Music helps us to "keep time" in the sense of keeping us in touch with time, not just time as an ever-flowing stream that bears us all away at last but time also as a stream that every once in a while slows down and becomes transparent enough for us to see down to the stream bed the way at a wedding, say, or watching the sun rise, past present future are so caught up in a single moment the we catch a glimpse of the mystery that at its deepest place time is timeless. (Buechner, Wishful Thinking)
Have you had that experience - the experience where music brings you to a transparent place. For me, sometimes, that place offers glimpses of the holiness of God. Glimpses of the eternal, where time is timeless.
I have no musical talent of my own, so I am eternally grateful to those who bring music into my life - people like my son, Josh; our music director, Bruce; the choir, the bells, and even those who have written music that we are blessed to sing in worship.
That's how gifts are - when they are shared, God is seen more clearly.