I’m often present to preside at baptisms, weddings, and funerals. Often it is for people I haven’t known for long and for people with a wide range of religious beliefs.
Once I was at a rehearsal for a wedding. I hadn’t known the family long, but even in the short time we had developed a lovely rapport. During a conversation with some of the wedding party, one person asked me, with a grin, “Do you perform exorcisms?”
“Well, not technically, since that’s not really a real thing.” (I recognize that not all people believe this way.) But people who have been thought in the past (and sadly still in some circles today) to be possessed by demons are people who are living with a mental illness/brain disorder. And I play music at the bedside to help create healing.”
“Often times I play for people who are in the behavioral health area at a hospital. And while I don’t ‘cast out’ anything from the people I play for, the music helps to start a relaxation response in their mind and body. The therapists at the hospital report to me that after I’ve played for a short time, there’s a rest-of-the-day difference in the patients as they work toward whatever goals they have set up as part of their treatment.”
“So, if we’re going to appreciate the science and not decide that a mental health issue is a demon possession, then yes. I guess what I do is kind of like an exorcism.”
We went on to have a wonderful conversation about mental health, mental health first aid, and removing stigma surrounding mental health treatment.
Live music is amazingly healing.
Rev. Kirk Moore (he, him, his)
Kirk Moore (he, him, his) is a guitarist, vocalist, and a certified music practitioner, (CMP). He’s also the pastor of St. Paul’s United Church of Christ in Downers Grove, IL and a member of the executive board of the UCC Mental health Network. Find out more about therapeutic music here.