Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Carrying a tune

Our three year old grandson reminds me of my mom.  There is not a moment in his waking day -- and maybe even as he sleeps -- that there is not a tune rambling around in his brain.  And consequently, those melodies cannot be hidden.  He hums that which I recognize and notes that seem to be connecting simultaneously as he hums them, not even aware of what he is doing.  This little fellow has about driven his parents crazy.

But I get it.  I grew up with that.  Our house was never silent, because music was the very air my mother breathed. There was always some form of music in the background or in the forefront.  I awoke to violin students taking lessons before school.  I could hear my mom practicing in the bathroom in the middle of the night, the notes working their way through the noise of the ventilation fan which she turned on to muffle the sound.  I would return from school and be greeted as I entered the house by a tsunami of sound -- a symphony or concerto turned to full volume on the stereo or radio.  I would discover mom in the living room on a folding chair, playing along on her violin as if she were in Carnegie Hall -- and perhaps that is exactly where she was.  I often expected to find mom swimming in those unfathomable depths and irresistible currents of sound.  She rarely saw my brothers or me come in the door.  She was miles away.

I learned to block out what I considered that "background noise."  I didn't hear it anymore.  But I didn't realize its deep engraving.  Even now, many decades later, I can hear a few bars of a melody and recognize it vividly.  I've heard those same pieces a lifetime ago, probably from even before I was born.

And I realize that those little tunes that Adri hums and sings and can't hold in are just a singular line of sounds often from a great symphony (which he hears on the television show Little Einsteins).  This one-dimensional collection of notes, a composer thought up, dreamed of, found himself humming, and then applied layer upon layer into something astonishing, the score for full orchestra, intricate in detail, bold in repeated themes, and after often hundreds of years, still leaving the audience breathless.

Last weekend, my husband and I attended a performance of Mahler's 2nd symphony, otherwise known as his Resurrection Symphony.

The notes, the melodies, the sheer force of every instrument and every voice came together so powerfully that when the conductor finally lowered his baton, the audience audibly gasped and rose to its feet.

I looked up the word "music" in my dad's old dictionary this morning.  I was amused.  It read:  "technically, the effect produced in the human mind when regular periodic vibrations from a sounding body reach the sensitive auditory nerve."

Is that how our culture explains the sacredness of the universe? The manifestation of beauty, the feeling of awe, or the presence of God?  Periodic vibrations? There is a lot more going on than that, a profound dimension unexplained.

And for what on the surface appears as unrelated experiences strung together, in and through those things that I cannot understand nor may never comprehend, I realize that God is building layer upon layer His purposes and His faithfulness.  I cannot even carry a tune for what God is doing in my life, full orchestration of what I can only hum a few bars, a redeeming sound that can't help but come to the surface.

I cannot manipulate.  I cannot orchestrate.
But God can do so much more.
That which is beyond my abilities,
far beyond my vision,
  and definitely beyond my control
is right in His hands.

And I am sure
that He who began a good work in you
   will bring it to completion
at the day of Jesus Christ.

                       Philippians 1. 6

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