holy saturday

You wouldn’t expect the day between Jesus’ death and resurrection to be sunny and windy, full of spring and allergens and life, but here we are.  Regardless of the weather, this day and its conceptual meanings has always been really important to me, capturing imagination and emotional interest.

This time last year, I was in Luxembourg with Hannah and Jessie, about to head back to Oxford and unable to get T.S. Eliot out of my head. What I saw then as a potential thesis turned out to be something deeper, a lifelong obsession with the space that we’re occupying right now: the space between death and resurrection.

Every year, I feel like we overlook this day. While our theological focus is (rightly) fixed on the crucifixion of Good Friday and the empty tomb of Easter Sunday, there are no services for Holy Saturday (I had to look up that name because I’d never heard it). There’s a reason for this: today is the day that we practice waiting.

I can’t imagine what today would have been for Jesus’ disciples: the man that you’ve followed for three years, that you knew was the anointed one, that you thought would free you from Roman rule, has just been put to death by that very regime. For the disciples, it was a day of fear, a day of doubt, and a day of despair. I’m reminded of Hans Holbein’s painting of Christ in the tomb:

holbein-christ
It struck Dostoevsky enough for him to include it in The Idiot, and looking at the painting brought him to the brink of an epileptic seizure. When he spoke to his wife about it, he said, “A painting like that can make you lose your faith.” With good reason: seeing Jesus in the tomb, beginning to decay with a thin form and discolored extremities, lets us know just how much we need the resurrection. This is the darkest moment, the nadir of kenosis (emptying out); it is also the most essential moment, when human incarnation meets divine power. Everything – everything – hinges on the fulfilment of the resurrection.

This isn’t just an important lesson for a single day, either.  We live, right now, in that vast space between our own death and resurrection as we continue to wait for the return of our resurrected Lord. We struggle with fear, and with doubt; but we know that, because of Christ, we refuse to despair.

I’ve talked about Eliot’s Waste Land before on here, and a lot of people look at this poem as a hopeless picture of a lost and broken generation.  When I read it, though, I see the same space we’ve been talking about: a land yearning for restoration – for the Fisher King to be restored by the Holy Grail, which holds, unsurprisingly, the blood of Christ. Last year, I was having a lot of doubts about the nature of God. Did he really love me? Was he really good and just, strong and saving? And it sounds so strange to say this, but Phlebas brought me back.

I reread part four of The Waste Land, which has always been my favorite:

Phlebas the Phoenician, a fortnight dead,
Forgot the cry of gulls, and the deep seas swell
And the profit and loss.
A current under sea
Picked his bones in whispers. As he rose and fell
He passed the stages of his age and youth
Entering the whirlpool.
Gentile or Jew
O you who turn the wheel and look to windward,
Consider Phlebas, who was once handsome and tall as you.

This may not seem like the most hopeful passage, but it gave me hope again. Phlebas hasn’t been left for dead. As he sits in his watery tomb, the current comes. Something new swirls around him – a sea-change, something that will alter everything. A resurrection.  His Death by Water is a baptism.

After the torch-light red on sweaty faces
After the frosty silence in the gardens
After the agony in stony places
The shouting and the crying
Prison and place and reverberation
Of thunder of spring over distant mountains
He who was living is now dead
We who were living are now dying
With a little patience

The waste land captures this Saturday perfectly, for the disciples and for us. The space of this world is corrosive. We are surrounded by death – it’s the trajectory of everything in this fallen world, and without Christ, it would be ours, too. But we just have to fix our eyes on him and wait.

This is why this space matters.  We’re not good at waiting. We want things immediately – Christ’s return, or God’s answer for the pressing questions of our lives. This is the space I’ve found myself in right now, as my friends’ future plans roll in in waves and I continue to be suspended – like Phlebas, it seems. I don’t know where I’ll be this summer, or next year, or the year after that. I don’t know what I’ll be doing. Like Elijah did in 1 Kings 19 (thanks, co-leader Matt!), I’m trying to listen for the voice of God past the winds, the earthquakes, and the fires – I’m trying to hear him in the gentle whispers that come into my life. And I’m trying to serve him, not my own ideas of success or the world’s ideas.

I’ll leave you with one last Eliot quote, this one from “East Coker” (my favorite of the Four Quartets).

I said to my soul, be still, and let the dark come upon you
Which shall be the darkness of God. As, in a theatre,
The lights are extinguished, for the scene to be changed
With a hollow rumble of wings, with a movement of darkness on darkness,
And we know that the hills and the trees, the distant panorama
And the bold imposing facade are all being rolled away—
Or as, when an underground train, in the tube, stops too long between stations
And the conversation rises and slowly fades into silence
And you see behind every face the mental emptiness deepen
Leaving only the growing terror of nothing to think about;
Or when, under ether, the mind is conscious but conscious of nothing—

I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope
For hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love
For love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith
But the faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting.
Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought:
So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing.
Whisper of running streams, and winter lightning.
The wild thyme unseen and the wild strawberry,
The laughter in the garden, echoed ecstasy
Not lost, but requiring, pointing to the agony
Of death and birth.

Find yourself here, in the middle way, between death and resurrection – and learn to find peace with God in the waiting.

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the symphony

I’ve been trying to write this blog post for weeks.  I jotted down all of my thoughts the night of the event and proceeded to lose and find that sheet of paper at least five times.  It’s currently lost.

One weekend in April this year, I went to the symphony for the very first time.  My friend and I gawked at the Rococo gold-and-white beauty that is Powell Hall, settled down in our fancy dresses, and waited for it to begin.

It’s like nothing I’ve ever experienced before, and I can safely say that it was life-changing.

Although I expected to like it, I didn’t expect the explosion of thought that would accompany enjoyment of the music.  I was completely fixed in my seat, but it was as if that tethering of intense focus only gave my thoughts more room to come alive above the wordless music.  Each different twist and turn of the music pushed my mind in another direction, prodding it, summoning up ideas and realizations.

The symphony itself was incredible.  I sometimes listen to classical music as I study, but this was arresting, much more so than mere background music.  There’s that lovely moment of prescience on the note right before where you wait on that cusp, feeling a contented jolt at a correct prediction and an electric pleasure at being proved surprisingly wrong.

Berlioz was terrifyingly brilliant.  Paganini was a madman. Aren’t all artists mad, though, I thought?  If madness is seeing something that isn’t there, then poets and artists – seeing the past, the future, and people that don’t even exist – are raving.  If madness is seeing what isn’t, then I was hallucinating right there, living in between two realities, planted in one and peering into the other.  These are some of my visions.

Watching so many people move together as a unit evoked an imperfect metaphor of the body of Christ and how beautiful true community can be.  In true community both people’s individual selves are kept intact as well as the group as a whole (Romans 12).  Diversity in the midst of community is one of the most beautiful things the body of Christ exhibits, people from every tongue and tribe and nation coming together for the singular purpose of living life together to praise God.

I thought about the misjudgement people make in comparing writing to music, and the beauty in telling a story without any words at all.  I tried to feel the plot from the notes and the instruments, and I didn’t completely get it.  But I remember feeling uneasy as my hairs rose, prickling, on my arms, or feeling relief at the tolling of bells.

I was also utterly captived by Augustin Hadelich, the violinist.  I saw how beautiful passion makes a person, and how much more there is to beauty than just physical appearance.  As he played, I thought about the intimacy of relationship between a musician and his or her instrument.  He knew every inch of the violin, exactly what to do with it, how to explore and find new wholes and play old melodies in an entirely new way.  He played, and I found myself in a space outside of time, and the rest of the world could keep on moving while I stayed and listened to him.

I imagined him as a boy, learning to clumsily pluck the strings of his new instrument, or maybe a borrowed violin, lightyears different from the borrowed violin that he currently played.  I imagined his first recital, his frustration that, even though his ability was growing, he still couldn’t play the hard pieces.  I imagined the horror that he felt after being trapped in that fire, his flesh rearranged and reconstructed, the terror that must have gripped him at the idea he might never play again.  And I imagined him with white hair, his mended skin wrinkling, playing with as much feeling and skill as he did here.

I saw the dome of the symphony hall tremble, speed up, begin to decay.  I imagined the cushions falling from their seats and the lights blowing out and leaving tiny shards of glass on the dirty carpet, the roof sagging and the paint peeling and the wind blowing leaves across the empty stage.  I imagined the hall in a hundred years, desolate, nature performing for herself and no one else, and I wondered if, even then, it would remember the sound of that symphony, if it would somehow ingrain itself into the structure.  If it would hold it close and bring it back up on lonely days, when the storm outside didn’t quite reach the inside, when the plinked dripping of the rain through the floorboards of the stage renewed itself in Paganini or Berlioz and the ghostly tune swelled within the shell of the hall.

And then a gasp of air, and the hall is glowing golden again, complete and full of life and music and the hushed rustle of hundreds of bodies shifting in their seats, fabric against velvet.

I’m sure there was more than this, and I’m disappointed that I don’t remember the flood of ideas.  I wished that symphonies could be like museums, letting everyone experience what I had; I wondered if everyone would want to.  I thought much of writing, much of inventiveness, much of God, some of others, and little of love.  But the symphony was nearly two months ago, now, and my memory has left me with this and with a feeling of fulfillment, peace, and reaching beyond my own shell.

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Listen to this: Augustin Hadelich playing Paganini: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WsJyuJppA7s

Berlioz’ Symphonie fantastique: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0DWjI1uLSzw

a black friday metaphor

A bit of a tardy note on Black Friday.  For as long as I can remember, I’ve hated the “holiday”.  The hype, the ads, and the crazed shoppers that trample their fellow humans all serve to make me wonder what we value most as a culture.  This year, they pushed it even farther back, Black Friday extending into Thanksgiving itself as some stores opened at 8 pm Thanksgiving night.

I think it’s a metaphor.

What’s happening in our society is an obsession, and one that I’ve bought into as well.  Of course we need things, and things matter to keep us alive, link us to others, and make our lives easier.  The trouble starts when little things become our ultimate Things, taking the place of God, family, and friends, and we begin to trade relationships for power, wealth, and stuff.  When the desire for a new iPad becomes more important than the safety of the person next to you, we have a problem.  Traditions, time with family, and counting our blessings are slowly having the rug pulled out from under them by our own looming greed and desire.

As humans, we are relational beings at heart, and the fascination with things continues to tear apart our links to others just as it has for years.  Mankind is selfish at its core, and that greedy egoism rears its head at every new invention and toy.  But things cannot fulfill us.  They cannot love us back, encourage us, or pick us up when we fall.  The very technology designed to connect us to one another is damaging our ability to hold real conversations, and instead, we revel in anonymity and feel lonelier and lonelier as we scroll through websites that don’t really mean anything.

America in particular is so consumerist, and that’s only getting worse – or maybe just more obvious.  We’re concerned with practicality, and we value the accumulation of wealth, power, and fame above most anything else.  We value things for their immediate use to us, and so things art, music, and writing are marginalized.  Does it bother me? Yes.

But I am thankful for my wonderful family with whom I got to spend my Thanksgiving, and my love for them was able to overshadow the distress I felt for the consumerist encroaching of Black Friday.  And, I have to admit… I did get a pair of jeans.

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Read this:  “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19-21

Download this: StayFocusd.  I downloaded it recently, and it only lets me spend ten minutes a day on my blocked sites (aka, tumblr).  Take THAT, Internet!

 

EDIT:  This article just came up, and I think it’s relevant to this.  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/gordon-brown/child-labor-trafficking_b_2245536.html .  Fourteen child laborers were just found and freed from making Christmas decorations for the west.  We tend to just assume that what we buy appears in the stores, and we don’t think about where they come from and what pain was put in to try to make this.  I’m not proposing a solution.  This is just something to think about.

caravaggio, plato, and seeing face to face

We were in Vienna’s art museum, and as soon as you walked into this Italian painters’ room, you could tell which three were his.  The first one was some commissioned scene of Mary handing out rosaries, and it was enormous. The people were beautiful. And as they reached up, their hands all congregated together beautifully and expressively, and their feet were dirty, and it was lovely.  The next, David and Goliath. He held the giant’s head (a self-portrait, again, by Caravaggio… the cad), but he didn’t look happy or victorious, like many of the other Davids. He was quiet, and pensive, and maybe a little sorry to have killed someone, or uncertain of his future.

The last was arguably the most beautiful.  Maybe beautiful isn’t quite right, since it was Christ being beaten and given the crown of thorns… but it moved me.  I started tearing up.  It was so bright and so vivid, and the shadows and the contrast were dramatic and striking, and the way Jesus just bowed his head, didn’t retaliate, and was just so filled with love

There was a girl with braided hair, curly and ribbon-bound, who had set up an easel and was just standing and painting. [I’d smelled her oil paints when I first walked in the room and felt, for a disorienting moment, that Caravaggio had just finished painting these works.]  And she was talented, too – it looked so much like the painting. But then again, it didn’t…

Although the forms were all the same, it lacked something.  The colors were dark and dingy compared to the brightness of the original, and there was an aliveness in Caravaggio’s work that the copy lacked.  It was so interesting.  In comparison, the copy wasn’t spectacular.  The longer you looked at it, though, the better it did look, and the more you saw its merit.  But that was shattered the second you turned your gaze back to Caravaggio’s, which shone with the mark of a master.  And I did that, and thought of the verse where we’re mere shadows, [1 Corinthians 13:12 – For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.] And of the very end of Narnia, when our world is proved to be a shadowy copy when compared with the next.

Perhaps you will get some idea of it if you think like this. You may have been in a room in which there was a window that looked out on a lovely bay of the sea or a green valley that wound away among the mountains. And in the wall of that room opposite to the glass there may have been a looking glass. And the sea in the mirror, or the valley in the mirror, were in one sense just the same as the real ones: yet at the same time they were somehow different — deeper, more wonderful, more like places in a story: in a story you have never heard but very much want to know. The difference between the old Narnia and the new Narnia was like that. The new one was a deeper country: every rock and flower and blade of grass looked like it meant more. I can’t describe it any better than that: if you ever get there you will know what I mean.

Last week we finished reading Plato’s Republic in one of my classes.  Now, Plato’s a little crazy.  I don’t agree with him on a good chunk of those writings.  But the section where he talked about the four realms of being and the Cave made a lot of sense.  This theory was explained to me in ninth grade as “if you have a stapler, the idea of a stapler is more real than the stapler itself”, so of course I wrote it off as stupid.  But that’s not quite it.

In Plato’s Republic, he talks about the four forms of reality.  “Forms” comes from the Greek word “ἰδέα” (idea), but I’ll call them “things” or “Things”.  Here is a handy diagram that I made.

Basically, realms A and B are the visible realms – physical things.  A is a realm of shadows, reflections and impressions of real world objects.  B is the objects themselves.  And you can’t really know these things, because they’re ephemeral and pass away as this earth does.  You can’t know them in a lasting way because they are mutable.

C and D, though, are Things.  Just as A is the shadow of B in the real world, the visible world is a mere shadow of the invisible.  These are Things that can be known because they are Things that never change.  Everything in the visible world stems from a greater Thing in the invisible – all good things stem from Goodness, and all beautiful things from Beauty itself.  There is something greater – a higher authority – from which the things in the physical world derive their value.  If you know things, you can try to figure out the larger Thing from these qualities, but you might not be able to.  But.  If you know the Thing, you will be able to discern the things that come from it and the things that do not.

Most people, Plato says, are trapped in this realm of visible shadows, but some can escape the Cave, where people watch shadows on a screen and think it’s reality, into the real world.  Even though he wants to stay there, he must go back down into the Cave in order to bring his fellow humans to the truth.

You probably see where I’m going with this.  Plato was so, so close with this theory of a higher something.  He just didn’t make that last step: when we know God, our eyes are suddenly opened to the true vastness of reality.  God is Goodness and Beauty, and so we can see these shadowy beautiful things in this world and know from Whom they stem.  When we try to cobble together aspects of his nature without knowing Him, we fail to reach God.  But God, in His unending mercy, pulled us out of the Cave and into the reality of His magnificence.  When we know Him, in His immutability, we’re then able to discern the things that come from Him and the things that don’t.

“Once they’ve been up there and had a good look, we mustn’t let them get away with what they do at the moment,” Plato says.  “Staying there… and refusing to come back down again to the prisoners”.   We have, in part, seen the Real World, the Higher Realms, the Caravaggios.  And now we must bring the truth of it back down to this Shadowy Place and tell the prisoners to sin of reality.

God is the God of all things visible and invisible, and eventually, we’ll be able to move from this world of shadows into his truth, life, and presence for eternity.  Further up, farther in.

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Read this: “The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” Colossians 1:15-17

 

what God’s been telling me this summer

I’m back at school.  Classes don’t start until tomorrow, though, so I’ve still got a few hours of freedom before I have to start worrying about everything.  I’ve still got a lot to tell you about things learned on vacation and during the summer, but I thought it apt to focus on God’s hand in my life this summer.  It’s been crazy.

Existential crises abounded.  The whole idea of being pre-med loomed, I could see the deadline, and the weight of my choices crippled me.  Granted, I gave them a bit too much weight.  But still.  I struggled over this for a long time.  There was one day of our trip, when we were in Denmark, when I just remember sitting on a windowsill and knowing that I was shaking inside.  The more I thought about it, the bigger my choice seemed.  I was scared of making a wrong decision, being considered stupid, not accomplishing anything.

But God spoke to me in the quiet spaces of hotel rooms and restaurants, and through the kindness of my little brother one night as I blubbered out my confusion, desire for greatness, and desire for God.

I prayed that God would replace my desires with His, give me peace, and help me to rely only on Him and not on the approval of others.  I prayed that He and He alone would become my hallowed thing.

And He spoke to me quietly and began to do these things.  I realized this: it doesn’t actually matter what I do, because I can serve God in whatever I do.  This “clarity” that I kept praying for may never come in the way that I wanted, and that was okay.  My focus was skewed.  I had been focusing on what I could do, and these things that I had wanted when I should have been turning my focus to the One who is with me always.  Everything in my life has to flow from that one relationship.

And it was at this point that God began to give me clarity as to what He wanted me to do.  That’s how it seemed at the time, but looking back, I suspect that I only began to listen at this point.

I worked as an intern for a nonprofit, LINC NT, when I got home, and the very first thing that they said they needed was someone to write stories for them.  That may not sound as shocking to you, but I’d been applying for jobs elsewhere and getting nowhere.  It was as if God had said, I want you here, and I want you writing. 

I wish I could remember all of the people, articles, and books that came my way at this point, but they were so numerous that I felt a little bit inundated.  I’d click on an article in a magazine, and it’d be about this very issue.  People came up to me independent of each other and mentioned my writing.  And then, a few weeks ago, I met with my pastor to talk.

We talked for almost two hours that morning, about art, literature, England, and my future.  And after our conversation, I stopped for tea and wrote, because I needed to process.  I trembled.  And here it is.

I knew I had to drop Chemistry.  I don’t really want to be a doctor.  Not really.  Because although I love the idea of it, I don’t think I’d be as happy in the day-to-day aspect.  It’d be stressful, and I’d have to separate myself from feelings about patients,people would die, and I wouldn’t be able to write.  I wouldn’t have the time.  But you make time for what you love!  I wouldn’t though.

And the most terrifying decision and admission came out then.  Everyone else has witnessed my passion for quite some time, and I think I just had to admit it to myself.  I love stories, and I am a creature driven more by story than anything else.  I want to be surrounded by them, inspired by them, and create them.

I want to write.

Why not do the thing I love most?  I have been blessed with a Great Love, and I know that not everyone has one.  And I want to be a writer, however impractical that may be.

I don’t know exactly how, and I don’t know at all how my life will pan out.  But who really does?  And this is a crazy thing.  As I told a dear, encouraging friend that night, I never thought I’d be that person who doesn’t have a distinct plan, who just goes where she thinks God is leading her.  Who just trusts that God will lead her and jumps.

And I’m scared.  I’m terrified – I don’t think I’ve ever been more scared of anything in my life.  This is a big step for me, and writing doesn’t exactly ensure a stable profession.  But I think it’s a step I have to take.  And I know that whatever I do, God’s going to provide me with what I need.  I don’t know that He’ll give me what I want.  And that’s a very good thing, because He knows so much better than I do.

I dropped Chemistry.  Looking back, I couldn’t even remember what had possessed me to sign up for it in the first place.  This summer, something just shifted.  And ever since that decision, God’s been giving me confirmation, guidance, and unbelievable peace.  I’ve read some really fantastic books – I just finished Surprised by Joy by C.S. Lewis, and Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art by Madeleine L’Engle.  The latter was intensely appropriate, recommended to me by another dear friend.  It’s all about being a Christian and a writer, and every page held something that I’d been thinking about or needed to consider.

Exactly two weeks after that decision, I got those articles published, which was lovely and confirming.

But even if I hadn’t… I’ve felt more peace since accepting this.  And since I’ve decided, I’ve been writing more every day.  And the more I write, the more I realize just how much I love it.  I love making sentences, the way a pen feels between my fingers, the way my handwriting spindles out, big words, analyzing and digging, creating characters, when people like my work, speaking True things.  I love writing. And the more I realize that, and the more I focus on God, the more that desire for greatness begins to fade.  I might never make it.  But I’m starting to care less, because I’m happy writing.

So, I don’t know where exactly I’m going from here.  It won’t be easy, and it won’t always make sense.  But I will continue to look to the Immutable and trust that He knows where I’m going.

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Read this: “Amiable agnostics will talk cheerfully about “man’s search for God.” To me, as I then was, they might as well have talked about the mouse’s search for the cat…. whenever my mind lifted even for a second from my work, [was] the steady, unrelenting approach of Him  whom I so earnestly desired not to meet… I gave in, and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed… The words compelle intrare, compel them to come in, have been so abused by wicked men that we shudder at them; but, properly understood, they plumb the depth of the Divine mercy.  The hardness of God is kinder than the softness of men, and His compulsion is our liberation.”  C.S. Lewis, Surprised by Joy

“Plato spoke of the necessity for divine madness in the poet. It is a frightening thing to open oneself to this strange and dark side of the divine; it means letting go our sane self control, that control which gives us the illusion of safety. But safety is only an illusion, and letting it go is part of listening to the silence, and to the spirit.” Madeleine L’Engle, Walking on Water

…seriously, these books are gold.

mumford and sons and knowing something well

I was listening to Mumford and Sons for the billionth time in the car, and as the first plucked notes of Sigh No More came through the speakers, I was struck with this feeling.  It’s hard to put into words, but I’m going to try.

It was a feeling of comfort, like something you know so well that it never fails to wrap its arms around you, hold you tight and close to its heart, and soothe you, whispering.  Folds of melodies and harmonies slowly pull me in, wind their way around me, and settle me down in their familiar fabric.

Sigh No More is a favorite shirt that you got years ago and can’t stop wearing, no matter how faded the dyes on the T-shirt become and how thin the fabric wears between your fingers.  You rub the corner of it, and it’s so comfortable and familiar that it makes you smile.  You’ve worn it so long that it has more than become your shirt.  Friends know it well and it reminds them of you easily.

Or it’s a figurine that someone carved for you out of wood.  You know it so well now that you’ve almost forgotten the story behind it, but not quite.  You trace its figure between your fingers and you know that every inch of it is wired into your tactile memory.

Or, most accurately, your favorite book that you’ve read so many times that the binding is starting to break, the pages are turning yellow, the ribbon bookmark has frayed at its edges, and the corners of the cover have bent and rounded.  You know every word, trace them with your finger, find the places where you’ve annotated with pencil, the eraser marks.

I remember the joy of first hearing the CD, and the countless loops I subjected my family to.  I remember first reveling in the voice and the passion behind it, listening to the CD again and again until I learned each line and strum.  Catching the references to literature and history, grinning at the lines from Shakespeare, trying to unravel Mumford’s spiritual state and battles through the lyrics, frowning at times and being moved by his own struggle.  Thinking it over and turning it around in my mind, deciding what I agreed with and what I definitely didn’t.  Learning to love certain songs, like Dust Bowl Dance, that I’d hated upon first hearing them.

And still the songs never grow old.  I never tire of hearing them.  Your shirt will fade and thin, and the figurine will wear away under the pressure of your fingers, like the stone stairs of a well-trodden castle staircase or the constant beating of waves against a cliff.  The songs do not physically change.  They’re recorded forever in the same state, the same notes, the same lyrics, the same breaths.

But my perceptions change.  As I grow, the songs change and touch my heart in different ways.

And today, as I was sitting at work with my headphones in, I finally recognized the few words that had been previously ambiguous in one of the songs, I Gave You All – “brass wires”.  I didn’t know that I hadn’t known them.  I found something new in the middle of something I knew so well – another whittled facet to the figurine, a tiny tag on the inside of the shirt that you hadn’t noticed before.  And that’s the fun of getting to know something complex.  It will always surprise you.  Caravaggio’s masterpiece reveals something new even after years of drinking it in with your eyes.  Your best friend of fifteen years pulls out a talent you never knew they had.  A single Bible verse shows you something different when you need it the most.  Even though you know every single line of your favorite movie, you finally see something in the background that foreshadows the end from the very beginning.  Every time you read that novel, something new jumps out at you, arrests you, and draws your attention.  A harmony finally clicks for you, you hear an instrument that had hidden from you in the depths of the song, and you find a reference that you didn’t understand before.

It changes as you do.  That’s why it’s worthwhile to do things again, to re-read, re-view, re-listen, re-touch.  That’s why the most beautiful and complex things can never be fully understood or known – while we’re stilll earth-bound, anyway.  That’s why it pays to pay attention, and that’s what’s so lovely about loving something.  So I’m going to get back into my car, turn up the volume, and sink down into the undulating waves of sound and word.

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Re-read this: something you haven’t read in years that impressed upon you.

Hear this: Sigh No More ;

I Will Wait, the new single:

Hoo.  I’m already moved to near-tears by the lyrics. Okay.