Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Music, Longing, and God

(reposted from 2009)

Tchaikovsky's 5th Symphony is such a gorgeous piece of music. LaRae's youth orchestra (the St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra) performed it at their most recent concert.

I sat listening yesterday afternoon, contemplating meaning, pondering how haunting, soaring, aching melodies evoke a sense of the insatiable longings we humans experience.

When I was young, I didn't understand how my cravings were to be rested in my Creator. I thought maybe they would be satisfied by "true love," intimate, exclusive connection with another human being. And surely, there is a sense in which our treasured, lifetime companion meets a certain aspect of our longings; but if I read history correctly, if I observe others' lives correctly, if I understand my own experience, there is a longing that no human relationship can fulfill. This truth is evidenced in the unending saga of broken relationships in our society, even the most beautiful, rich, and famous people go from one failed relationship to another trying to find solace in another human being.

In the classic book, Jane Eyre, Edward Rochester asks Jane if a repentant man might "secure his own peace of mind and regeneration of life by attaching himself (forever) to a gentle, gracious, genial stranger." He says, "You find in this stranger much of the good and bright qualities you have sought for twenty years, and never before encountered; and they are all fresh, healthy, without soil and without taint. Such society revives, regenerates..." Jane wisely responds that "a sinner's reformation should never depend on a fellow creature." She adds, "Men and women die; philosophers falter in wisdom and Christians in goodness: if anyone you know has suffered and erred, let him look higher than his equals for strength to amend, and solace to heal."

Exchanges like this fuel my love for classic books! What valuable insight! I'm so thankful my children learned from books like this.

But back to Tchaikovsky and his Fifth Symphony... The entire symphony is linked below. If you are not familiar with the music, the "haunting melody" is in the middle of the second movement.

Tchaikovsky is said to have been troubled by his longings; he was moody, sensitive, prone to melancholy and even attempted suicide. I can confidently say his unhappiness, his unquenchable desires could have been entrusted to God, and he would have found rest there. I hope he did before he died.

As you listen, think about how the music reflects your longings, your desire to know happiness in its fullest measure.

I believe we can only begin to experience a sense of rest as we pursue a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Jesus promised He would provide living water that would satisfy. I'm drawing on that as best I know how, and there is a sense of rest as I do. I look forward with great anticipation to the fulfillment that is to come!