Thursday, May 29, 2014
We had just finished our ice cream, his a butter pecan in a cup, mine a Kahlua chocolate fudge in a waffle cone, when I noticed the time. 8:15. Sunset. We threw away our trash and headed out the door of ZuZu's Ice Cream shop just yards away from the ocean that lapped St. Simon's Island. Yes, the sun had already begun its descent beyond the trees on the western horizon, and so I picked up my step, almost running to the end of the long pier so as not to miss the last kiss of the day.
I took my place at the rail among the holy silence and found myself being pulled into what Thomas Merton calls "the everlasting movement of gravitational force into the very life and spirit of God: God's own gravitation towards the depths of his own infinite nature, his goodness without end." I am not sure I have ever experienced a sunset with such an awareness of God. In silence and majesty, He was awakening in the depths of my soul; His skies sanctifying not only my eyes but my entire self.
At one point, I became aware of others who had gathered on that pier. Some had probably come for just this moment. Others found themselves there by chance. But incidental or deliberate, religious or not, for a moment, we all understood our position, and we remained silent, mute, in the presence of the Beloved. For a moment, we saw nothing in this world but His glory. For a moment, we all fell into insignificance. For a moment, we were all free from preoccupation. For a moment, time stopped and we entered into the eternal. For a moment, we were all awe struck. For a moment, we were all kissed with holy flame.
Tears streamed down my cheeks as the sky blazoned and that great ball of fire dipped once more behind the Earth's western sphere. Yes, that One whose center is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere, had found me and loved me.
Then breaking the silence in the only way that seemed appropriate, one lone observer applauded.
Be still and know that I am God.
Thursday, May 1, 2014
As a pianist, one of my more favorite things to do is play with other musicians. There's just something about the combined effort, talent and years of practice joined together to make something potentially very beautiful. And quite frankly, whether it's with my brother on the guitar, Pat on the violin, David on the organ, a host of hands on 4 pianos or a whole orchestra of fine musicians, it's just plain fun for me. Unless, of course, one of you is out of tune, and artistry turns into torment.
I sit here this morning and hear the ping, ping, ping coming from my music room as Mr. Brown does his work up and down the keys bringing each into a much needed pitch alignment. (Ouch, that particular "ping" just now caused my skin to crawl.) Truth is, those strings were in a dire need for tuning.
He began with the A above Middle C and is working from there. Tune that A to 440 Hz and then line the other 87 keys up to that one and you have a very agreeable and beautiful sound.
Scientifically speaking, the pitch of a musical tone is the speed at which air is set in motion, and that is measured by the number of complete vibrations made by a particle of air in one second. One vibration is called a Hertz, and the greater the number, the higher the pitch. Thus, the A above middle C is tuned to 440 Hertz, or vibrations, the standard adopted in the Western world as the Concert A. Which is why you will hear a musician say, "Give me an A, please." To do so is to come into alignment with the other instruments.
I don't know about you, but my life is a lot like that piano. It needs a tuning. A regular aligning. And not just twice a year like that Baldwin that sits in my living room. It needs a daily calibration ... if not more.
And so I place myself before the Master Tuner, and through a work only He can do, my life is tuned to that One who Himself is the Perfect A.
The Absolute I Am
The Almighty Arm of the Lord
The Amazing Ancient of Days
The Awesome Anointed One of Israel
The Astonishing Alpha and Omega
My Atoning Sacrifice
My All in All
Yes, give me an A, please, Lord, and make me into a beautiful instrument for Your glory.
Just an ordinary moment...