Sunday Psalms: Fictional Narratives Inspired by the Psalms, Proverbs, & Other Biblical Works
It was Friday night and the crowd at Oliver’s was becoming loose and eager. Candlelight from the tables proved a gentle hue, and music from the baby grand mingled with the laughter of young women who clinked ornate stemware as they flirted with young men.
While the rest of the room laughed and drank, Alex sat at his usual table, drinking a club soda and picking at a plate of crudités. He savored the burn of the soda as it ran down this throat and into his chest. Unlike most of the customers, he sat alone.
“You sure you don’t want something stronger?” A female server in a black dress walked by and gave Alex a smile. She tilted her head to the side, pretending to care, even though Alex knew she was really calculating her tip.
“Nah,” Alex said as he drained his glass. “I’m not here for that.”
“Well, let me know if you change your mind.” The crowd at Oliver’s was known for treating themselves to drink after drink, bottle after bottle. So far, Alex was the only one who had ordered club soda.
“You’re new.” Alex informed her as if she needed to be made aware of this fact. “You like it here?”
“It’s alright. Worked a lot of places.” She shrugged and leaned against the table. Alex figured she was in her thirties and decided that the black dress, the dyed hair, and the soft candlelight did an excellent job of concealing her age.
“At least you get to hear incredible music,” Alex said and nodded towards the jazz band that had just concluded their first set.
Simone glanced around then leaned in as if she was going to reveal a big secret. “Can I tell you something?” She paused before saying, “I don’t really like jazz.”
Alex made a disheartening moan and motioned like he had been stabbed in the chest. “Don’t like jazz? That’s it. I need a new server.” He pretended to look around for another one of the employees.
“I know. It’s terrible. How can you work in a jazz bar and not love it?”
“I have no idea,” Alex said. He scratched his chin, trying to fathom this notion before asking her, “What’s your name?”
“Simone. How can you have a name like Simone and not like jazz?”
As if this was an invitation, she promptly sat down opposite him. She placed her hands flat on the table and looked intently at him.
“This whole jazz thing. I don’t get it. It’s so unpredictable, you know? I can’t figure out where it’s going, and I can’t really sing along. You know these guys improv most of their stuff?”
“Exactly. That’s why it’s awesome,” Alex said. “Come on. You’re trying to tell me you don’t like Louis Armstrong or Miles Davis?”
Simone just shook her head as Alex started to rattle off a string of his favorite artists. “Sorry. I know it’s a really big deal for some people. I just can’t get into it.”
They sat quietly for a minute as the band began to play again. Simone watched Alex as he closed his eyes and meditated on the delicate intricacies of the music. The long slide of the trombone, the heartbeat thump of the upright bass. Each instrument taking its turn to showcase its voice before merging back into the flow.
Getting a look from her manager, Simone went to check on the other tables while Alex sat bobbing his head as the band slipped into a vibrant tempo. The piano player eventually started in with slow chords that brought the music back to a more mellow beat, and just when you thought the song was over, the drummer started up again, tapping a frantic bit of percussion that moved everything forward.
“So why do you like jazz so much?” Simone asked, returning to Alex’s table once the song had ended.
He grinned, and without thinking about it said, “My dad. Dad loved jazz. Used to play in a band. He was a beast on the piano. I’d sit on the bench next to him and watch his hands fly up and down the keyboard. Crazy good. Dad schooled me on all the old guys. Miles Davis, Count Basie. He really knew his stuff. He got all serious about it one day. Told me, ‘Son, jazz is the story of life.’ He was kind of philosophical like that.”
“Is he still around?”
“No. Passed away a few months ago. We used to come in her together. Dad really loved this place. I guess he believed jazz was more than a song. It takes you down a path you’d never expect. It’s mysterious and alive. You can resist it or be swept into it.”
“So you like to be surprised?”
“I need to be. I think everybody does. At least that’s what my dad thought.”
Great is the Lord, and highly to be praised, and His greatness is unsearchable. Psalm 145:3
Then Job answered the Lord and said: “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted. ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. ‘Hear, and I will speak; I will question you, and you make it known to me.’ I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.” Job 42:1-6
-Question to Ponder: What are the mysteries of God that challenge your faith?
-Song Recommendation: I’ve Got Rhythm by Nikki Yanofsky (Available on Itunes)
Written by Heidi Sadler, Inspired by Psalm 145 & Job 42 © 2016 Heidi Sadler, All Rights Reserved. “Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.”
Embracing life’s wilderness through music & community