— 1 —
Normally I place a video at the #5 slot, but yesterday I decided to lead with this one. This morning, after taking Buster outside for his morning duty and then feeding him, I went back to bed and listened to the fourth movement of the score on my iTouch. Little did I know that I would need that salve for my mind after getting to work and hearing of the horrific events in Aurora, Colorado, that unfolded at a movie theater last night.
The criterion for true beauty is that it increases on examination; if false, that it lessens. There is therefore something in true beauty that corresponds with right reason and is not the mere creation of fancy. – Greville
On May 7, 2010, I was able to fulfill a small dream of mine and see a live performance of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, more commonly known as the “Ode to Joy” on the anniversary of the day it had premiered in Vienna in 1824. Our Lincoln Symphony Orchestra did a wonderful job along with a full choir. From our seats in the front and center aisle of the balcony my wife and I sat and soaked it all in. Every note, every rest, every voice. Sublime doesn’t begin to describe it.
I could write at length about it, but won’t. Today is for brevity, and for beauty.
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Oh friends, not these tones!
Rather, let us raise our voices in more pleasing
And more joyful sounds!
Would that more people in this world embrace these words. I’ve grown weary of the current “tones”, especially those already employed by those in the media and in politics who see these senseless deaths as an opportunity to score cheap political points. Only they shouldn’t be cheap. The price, whether one life or many, was too high.
Every year of my life I grow more convinced that it is wisest and best to fix our attention on the beautiful and the good, and dwell as little as possible on the evil and the false. – Cecil
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To cultivate the sense of the beautiful is one of the most effectual ways of cultivating an appreciation of the divine goodness. – Bovee
Beauty evokes a sense of captivating wonder…
…causing us to scale to higher ground…
…and erupt with Joy.
And as the photos above demonstrate: Wonder, Beauty and Joy have no age limits.
— 4 —
Be embraced, millions!
This kiss for the whole world!
Brothers, above the starry canopy
Must a loving Father dwell.
Do you bow down, millions?
Do you sense the Creator, world?
Seek Him beyond the starry canopy!
Beyond the stars must He dwell.
Words taken from the “Ode to Joy” a poem by Friedrich Schiller and used by Beethoven for his masterpiece.
— 5 —
You may wish to ask me “How can you write of Joy or of Beauty this morning?” I don’t know that I can offer a cogent answer right now. Last night, as is our custom every night, Sophie was tucked into bed and we recited her night prayers. These consist of The Lord’s Prayer, a “Hail Mary”, the “Glory Be”, the Fatima Prayer and “Angel of God”. When I’m the parent tucking her in she will recite the first four with me and say the Guardian Angel prayer herself. We’ve added a twist this month, however, as I’ve learned to say the “Glory Be” in Latin. The first time I said it at her bedside she giggled and laughed at the funny words. I became the favored parent for a time for night prayers because of this, though she insisted I also recite it in English. The first time I wasn’t available, after my wife had recited the “Glory Be” in English Sophie asked her to say it “using daddy’s funny words.”
“What words are those, Sophie?”
“You know…the ones Daddy uses. ‘Gloria Be-uh. Sopapilla.’ Those words.” (Those actual words are: “Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto…”)
I guess what I’m trying to say this morning is that ugliness is all around us. It screams at us, demanding our attention. We can give it all of our energy if we choose, and succumb to the blackness, the emptiness and the nihlism. But we do have other choices. Beauty also surrounds us. Quietly, and with little fanfare it’s always there, within each moment, whether you’re listening to a great symphony or the mangled Latin of a 5-year old.
A verse from the hymn used during today’s Morning Prayer said “The day-star’s rays are glittering clear, And tell that day itself is near: The shadows of the night depart; Thou, holy Light, illume the heart.” It reminded me of why I value getting up just a little early each day and spending that time in prayer or meditation. I like to think that my voice is joining that of clergy, monks, nuns and laypersons all over the globe, in cities and in the countryside, thanking the Lord for another day while watching the fog of night roll away, lifting to reveal the sunny meadows of the day to come.
Our fair morning is at hand; the daystar is near the rising, and we are not many miles from home. What matter, then, of ill-entertainment in the smoky inns of this worthless world? We are not to stay here, and we shall be dearly welcome to Him to whom we are going.
– Samuel Rutherford