A recent NPR Morning Edition broadcast covered the work and inspiration of Derrick Hodge, a jazz musician, and his recent solo album, Live Now. Hodge was inspired by gospel music, as are many jazz musicians, but he did not come to gospel music through the church. He followed the music and came to church through the music. Hodge’s defining moment happened when he was a kid running errands with his mother:
“Someone pulled up in the car next to me and he had all these drums in the back — like, drums and keyboard and all this stuff — and he got in the car and he drove off,” Hodge says. “So I said, ‘Mom, can we follow that car? I saw instruments in the car.’ … For whatever reason that day, she said, ‘Okay.’ We pulled up to the church and she stayed in the parking lot. She said, ‘All right, go in there for ten minutes.’”
Hodge didn’t come out in ten minutes. Both he and his mother joined the church that day.
The obvious question is, what if Hodge’s mother had not agreed to follow the car? What if she had said, “I’m not following a stranger’s car, who knows where they’re going?” or, “Not today. We’ve got too many errands to run.” We’d like to think that Hodge would have come to music by some other route, but how, and when? We are confronted with risk daily. Should we ask the Director of the department we’re interested in to coffee? Should we go alone to the restaurant we’ve wanted to try, even though our friend canceled? We never know who we’ll meet. Should we trust our instincts and follow a stranger with a drum set? Sometimes the risk in risk is not taking it.