Wednesday, July 21, 2010


Yesterday I had a song stuck in my head half the evening. I don't know how or why it came to mind, but once it did, it could not be dislodged. I thought perhaps listening to it would satisfy the craving my heart had to hear it, so I pulled up the youtube video, but that did nothing more than capture my attention more fully, enchanting me with the lyrical, poetic theology of the lyrics and the magnificent talent and artistry of the music. I was enthralled. A number of times over the ensuing hours I was drawn back to the song. It fed something ravenous within my soul.

It's a song that, though relatively new, I've sung a number of times to my God. "Your love is a symphony/All around me/Running through me..." My God's love for me fills every moment of my days and nights, surrounding me in beauty as the majesty of a symphony surrounds its listeners. It pierces to the very depth of my being and cannot be forgotten. This is true art, true beauty, true love -- this love is music that changes lives.

As I praised my God in this song, though, I began to catch a glimpse of another truth. What if this song isn't about God's love for me and my appreciation of it? What if it is rather about my love for God, and God's appreciation of it? While there's nothing in the song to explicitly suggest this interpretation, I cannot help but see the beauty in this discovery as well.

God speaks to me and says, "Your love is a symphony, all around me, running through me. Your love is a melody, underneath me, running to me. Oh, your love is a song!" What if -- maybe, just maybe -- God cherishes my love for him in the way I cherish God's love for me. Is it my love -- our love -- that sounds as a symphony in God's ears, filling God's existence with beauty and appreciation? Does God exult in the artistry of love that he sees going on among us? Does God crave the presence of this kind of love just as we do? Can I -- one person alone, and one very messed up person at that -- delight God through my love for him the way a favorite song delights its hearers? The thrill of beauty that leaves me gratefully speechless -- is this the kind of effect I have on God?!

As these thoughts came to mind, I could not help but think also of Tolkein's majestic creation myth, Ainulindalë. When I first read this tale, also called "The Music of the Ainur," about a month ago, I thought it one of the most beautiful pieces of art ever fashioned. In this story, Ilúvatar, the One, created the Ainur (or Holy Ones), who sang before him, "and he was glad." Ilúvatar delighted in the songs of his creatures, their expression of loving existence before their creator. He was glad. And though Tolkein made it clear that he did not mean his tales allegorically, I cannot help but read my faith though their beauty and wisdom. God was glad for the way his creation expressed itself in beauty because of love.

Tolkein's story goes on, "But for a long while, they sang only each alone, or but few together, while the rest hearkened; for each comprehended only that part of the mind of Ilúvatar from which he came, and in the understanding of their brethren they grew but slowly. Yet ever as they listened they came to deeper understanding, and increased in unison and harmony." Through the harmonies of the Ainur, a new world is brought into being. It is only the "turbulent sound" of one self-important, rebellious Ainur that threatens to upset the beauty of the songs of the symphony the Holy Ones have created in their response to Ilúvatar. I wonder, then, as beautiful as the melodic love of one disciple is to God, how it cannot compare to the unimaginably stunning symphony of millions, billions of voices of love in harmony -- powerful enough in their beauty to create new worlds and please God.

Remember, our love is a symphony. What kinds of beautiful things can we sing into being?

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