Looking through an old magazine earlier this week, I ran across a great quote in an interview with iconic guitarist Carlos Santana (Guitar Player, Holiday 2010: 68). Speaking of playing guitar solos, Santana said

When you take a solo, it’s required for you to know two things: Where are you going and what are you trying to say. Ideally, you’re going straight to the heart. And what you are trying to say to the audience is that you’re [i.e., each person in the audience—TAC] meaningful, you’re significant, and you matter too. If you can take a solo like that, you’re badass. Otherwise, you’re like a cow regurgitating alfalfa and it’s just a bunch of notes and stuff. But if you can affect people to where you kind of alter their existence, you’re pretty badass.”

My thoughts immediately jumped to preaching, conceived not as an academic exercise (the way I was originally taught), but as an art (see, for example, Walter Brueggemann, Finally Comes the Poet). What if we preachers treated the sermon not as a bunch of words and stuff (to paraphrase Santana), but as one person’s heart reaching out to another? What if it were a creative riff on the text, the life of the church, the old themes made fresh and new (2 Corinthians 5:17)?

Come to think of it, what if all our human communication—between spouses, parents and children, friends—were of that sort, namely, an artful, “straight to the heart” statement that our conversation partner matters? What if our speech with each other, just for a little while and maybe only a little bit, served to “alter [our] existence”?

© 2013 Tom Cheatham. All rights reserved.