Sunday, September 29, 2013

Beethoven's Symphony No. 7 in A Major Op 92. Allegretto

This piece of music moves me in a way I cannot really explain.
Press play and then read on as I try...

It thrills my heart, my mind with the very first chord. It starts with an announcement, then, softly, slowly, it begins gathering strength...

There is a melancholy edge to it. And yet, there is something triumphant there as well. It tells a story, but that story seems to change every time I listen. It can be exciting, comforting, soothing, romantic, encouraging, or commiserative. I see sweeping landscapes, slow-motion glances from one to another, beautiful ballet across a stage. I see children laughing and dancing. I see Disney's Fantasia.. I see friends grinning at me across a room. I see loved ones sitting next to me sobbing into pillows.

As the dynamics swell and diminish, the scene changes, the emotion shifts.

Sometimes it depends on my mood, sometimes it enhances or changes it.

It swells in and out and around your heart, and then it drifts off into the stillness... but not without one last statement on it's way out.

This is the best I can do.
There is nothing quite like music.
And nothing quite like this piece.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013


What do you do when everything crumbles around you?

I have a tendency to crumble with it. Not right away, not quickly, but I do indeed crumble. There have been a few times that things were built back up fast enough that I did not fall before it was resurrected. Usually, though, even if it's briefly, I crack. I find myself in a real struggle mentally, emotionally, and even spiritually - though I don't always recognize that part of it.

So what do you do? How do you keep going and not just sit at home moping or crying or hiding from everything and everyone? Well, for me, it's often found in music. Which then leads me to Scripture, which is the spoken Word from God to me. (!) And of course, the best place to go is God - so even though I pray a lot through whatever circumstance I find myself in, the
music --> Scripture --> God's heart 
is the path that takes me outside my own head and realigns me with the One who can not only sort it out, but make it worth it.

Today, the song thankfully stuck in my head is Everything Falls by Fee. Specifically repeating:
You said You'd never leave or forsake me
When you said, this life is gonna shake me
There will be storms in this life
But I know You will overcome, you have overcome
When everything falls apart Your arms hold me together
When everything falls apart You're the only hope for this heart
When everything falls apart and my strength is gone
I find You mighty and strong, You keep holding on
God is, indeed, good.  And the best place to begin rebuilding is worship.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Twelve Years

Today, I don't have much to say that hasn't been said. That may change in the future, but September 11th, 2001 is forever branded in my mind - what I saw, thought, felt, experienced. And I was safe in the midwest (though throughout the day(s)/weeks following Chicago was under a potential threat warning). I still pray for them whenever I think of those who still deal with the loss of loved ones because of that tragic day. Twelve years is plenty of time for healing and renewal (and yet not nearly enough). This morning I read this poem, posted by an author I admire, and it seemed to suffice for today. His original post can be found at

Were I not frail and half broken inside,
I wouldn’t be thinking of them, who are, like me, half broken inside.
I would not climb the cemetery hill by the church
To get rid of my self pity.
Crazy Sophies,
Michaels who lost every battle,
Self-destructive Agathas
Lie under crosses with their dates of birth and death. And who
Is going to express them? Their mumblings, weepings, hopes, tears of humiliation?
In hospital muck and the smell of urine,
With their weak and contorted limbs,
And eternity close by. Improper. Indecent.
Like a dollhouse crushed by wheels, like
An elephant trampling a beetle, an ocean drowning an island.
Our stupidity and childishness do nothing to fit us
For this variety of last things.
They had no time to grasp anything of their individual lives,
Any principium individuationis.
Nor do I grasp it, yet what can I do?
Enclosed all my life in a nutshell,
Trying in vain to become something
Completely different from what I was.

Thus we go down into the earth, my fellow parishioners,
With the hope that the trumpet of judgment will call us by our names.
Instead of eternity, greenness and the movement of clouds.
They rise then, thousands of Sophies, Michaels, Matthews,
Marias, Agathas, Bartholomews.
So at last they know why
And for what reason?

–Czeslaw Milosz

(John first heard this poem read by Robert Hass on the NPR program Fresh Air, on September 21st, 2001.)