Easter Weekend and the Role of Music as Solace in the Wake of Trauma

In the darkest days of my dealing with destructive impacts of spiritual abuse, music provided a key source of emotional relief and release, and bittersweet beauty. Extended works have the most appeal and the selections changed with situations.

After my first (and one of the worst) situation of abuse, it was Handel’s Messiah. I listened to it so much that I wore out three sets of cassette tapes–which tells you how long ago that was!

Twenty years later, when I was waking up every night in cold sweats, on the verge of screaming from nightmares about church and the abusive pastor, Les Misérables was the go-to source of solace. Some days I listened to “Bring Him Home” repeatedly, tears soaking into tissues. Friends had given me the CDs a few years earlier and thought I might enjoy it. Little did they know how crucial their gift would be to my sanity …

A few years later, it was the entire Lord of the Rings extended movie trilogy (which I watched at least weekly for years) and its massive soundtrack of 11+ hours of music. Soundtracks provide the emotional cues for one’s journey through the movie, and this one is definitely epic!

I’ve watched the trilogy all in one day a few times, but usually it takes a few days to get through it. So I feel a kinship in real time with Frodo and the Fellowship as they trudge through their journeys.

But that’s what enduring and recovering from spiritual abuse was like–a massive, epic struggle where sometimes all you can do is hang in there and hope that someone left a guidewire for you to grab on to, to get out of that almost endless cave of near despair.

Last night I finished a cycle of listening to The Lord of the Rings Complete Recordings. It took a few days. But it felt like finishing was an appropriate way to mark Good Friday, and now to have Silent Saturday for reflection before Resurrection Sunday.

I’m thankful I’m not in the same place I was when LOTR was my go-to way … to focus what little energy I had in the midst of physical exhaustion from spent spiritual reserves.

These movies and music will long be a deep dive into “the ABCs of resilience and recovery” for me–Arts, Beauty, and Creativity that resource and restore my spirit.

Selah.

And on this Easter weekend, may you find for the first time or in a renewed way something of beauty that lifts you up …