Saturday, March 28, 2009

The world, saturated with wet,
glows with dull darkness
in high contrast to the bright greys and golds
of the clouds that hide
the setting sun.

The river crashes loud and drunken
down its familiar path,
swollen sick with gamboge runoff.

The unfallen rain hangs suspended
and invisible in the cool, fresh air,
and the winding pathways are deserted
for fear that it will again materialize
and realize its weight.

But it doesn't.

Instead, one girl stands small
on a precarious bridge across the swirling waters,
singing some Jason Mraz song
and taking in with open arms
this rare appreciation of lonefulness.

[I'm glad I took a walk today.]

Sunday, March 15, 2009

not in scripture, maybe....

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart.
And love your neighbor as yourself."

And if you hate yourself... well then, love yourself as you love your neighbor.

Because your God, your family, and your friends love you. And think about it - if you love them, a way to show it is to take care of what they love.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Do you hear what I hear?

Have you ever tried to think about how you listen to music? I mean, not when you're trying to analyze something about it or pay attention to a beautiful bridge that a friend wanted to share with you, but just when you're in the car, jammin. What is it that you hear when you're not listening for anything?

Is it like Ratatoille? When you hear a song, do you get dancing colors in your head? Does it read to you like nondescript physical motion? Or do you see in your mind's eye each musician playing each instrument?

I was in late high school or possibly college before I started to have what I would consider to be an appreciation for the complexity of music. I couldn't distinguish instruments audibly... or maybe I could have, but the idea had never occurred to me. And I sang Alto in high school, but it irritated me because the notes were all wrong. Why couldn't I sing the song the way it was supposed to sound, like the Sopranos? It wasn't till I was in choir in college that the harmonies started to make sense to my ear and I began to be able to pick out the lines even without music. The opposing yet complimentary layers of recorded songs I'd known since I knew how to sing at all suddenly popped out at me for the first time.

And then of course, I had friends like Joseph and Patrick and Ashley and Zach and Rubbo and so on and so on who would blast music in the car on the way to Steak 'n Shake at 1AM and go, "Listen! Listen, do you hear that? Oh my gosh, it's beautiful!" And I'd be like, "Yeah!" thinking to myself, hurry up, what is it that they're hearing?? And like the harmonies, I started to hear other things too. The incomprehensibly fast drum beat. The height to which the singer soared but with such ease that you could miss it.

Still, I usually only heard it when I was consciously listening for it. I've always assumed I just had a lazy ear. I just hear music as a unit. That's why alto didn't make sense, why I never heard individual instruments, etc.

I put on Dark Passion Play on my way back from Columbia Sunday evening and found myself picking apart the music. All through the first song, I just tried to hear what was what. Trumpets, violins, electric guitar, full drums, piano, and more. And when you start to listen to one part, this whole new song pops out at you from a song you'd listened to dozens of times already. The song within the song that was written just for that one instrument. By the end of the song, I was composing this post in my head and had gone on to the question of how I hear music. By the way, it's really hard to pay attention to how you do something naturally.

How do I hear music? It's like a blob. No, it's not visible. It's like a sense of movement. No, that's not it either. I hear the music as a single unit and the singer as another unit, even if there are multiple parts making up the vocals. I only hear it split if another singer is "vocalizing" something entirely different or singing a subordinate or duet line. The music, that blob of meshed notes, it reads to me as emotion. More than that, as an experience. It doesn't move but it's a driving force. It doesn't speak but it tells a story. And I don't mean like, "You can hear how the composer is imitating the sound of falling rain." A story composed entirely of feelings. Of life.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

This is a test.

James 1:2&3
Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.

When I read passages like this, I think of persecution. Roman guards bursting into thatch-roofed homes and dragging off members of the underground churches. Being flogged, stoned, crucified for believing that Christ is the Messiah. That image that's less applicable and more "so far removed from me that it's on the other side of the world and 19 centuries ago." And maybe that is the image that James had in his mind, but I doubt he was referring only to that sort of trial.

Various trials. "I got a ticket on the way home." "I lost my job." "The man of my dreams found the woman of his... and it's not me." "My car won't start." "My sister isn't saved."

The testing of your faith. Your faith that God is still good, still sovereign, knows what He's doing, is doing exactly what's best for you.

Produces endurance. There's nothing you can endure for long that you could not endure for longer or better if you've endured it in the past and learned from it. A man who runs ten miles every day will do better in a marathon than a man who has never run a mile. If you've struggled to understand that "All things work together for the good of those who love Him," endured that frustration, and seen it prove itself true, you have that experience, that endurance, to recall when next a seemingly evil circumstance comes.

Consider it great joy. You have to love wisdom. You have to say, "I hate what has happened... but I love it because this pain is a gift, equipping me for other experiences and future conversations. God cares enough about me to teach me in ways that He knows will communicate to my weak mind." I want wisdom, so if I bear in mind that the unpleasant experiences God brings my way are going to give me that wisdom, are for my good, are for His glory, then they are deserving of a joyful reception.

It's just like exercise. A person who wants to look better and feel better and have more strength and balance will gladly endure the pain to get there. But like any good trainer will tell you,

"You have to want it."