"What He ordains for us each moment is what is most holy, best, and most divine for us." Jean-Pierre de Caussade

Friday, November 14, 2008

A Rubato Kind of Life

My Harvard Dictionary of Music describes rubato this way: “An elastic, flexible tempo involving slight accelerados and ritardandos that alternate according to the requirements of musical expression.” In other words, it’s a “give and take" that complement one another, so that, after several measures in this free tempo, the player arrives at exactly the same moment in time that he would have reached had he played in a strict tempo. The only difference is that there has been an expression of unforced rhythm that has produced a texture of musical freedom.

When I think of rubato, I think of Liszt’s Concert Etude in Db Major which I played for my entrance into college. I loved playing Bach and Mozart and the exact tempo of both. I still do; and quite frankly, it probably has to do with just that: the precision that is required. The clarity of everything being in its place, the order. But there’s nothing like the free expression of Liszt, Chopin, and Debussy that allows me to articulate the workings of my own heart which creates a balance and relationship between the artist and the student.

Matthew 11:28-30 records Jesus as saying, “Come to Me. Get away with Me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with Me and work with Me – watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with Me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly” (The Message).

As a Christ follower, I am to live a balanced life, not in the sense of everything being constant or steady, rather in the sense of “rubato,” – an “unforced rhythm of grace.” I am in a season of my life that is hectic right now; in two weeks that will probably be different – at least for a few days. There will be highs and there will be lows. There will be periods of stress and seasons of rest. The question is will I meet the demands with strict determination (religion) or will I walk with Christ in an unforced rhythm of grace (relationship) where the workings of His heart are expressed through the workings of mine. One is burdensome, the other light.

“Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.” Why not make that your goal, too?

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