Archive of ‘Music’ category

Star Song

by

Dali

Salvador Dali 1969 Lithograph from the BIBLIA SACRA 33 – SANCTUS RAPHAEL ET TOBIAS

We have been having
epiphanies like stars
all this year long.
And now, at its close,
when the planets
are shining through frost,
light runs like music
in the bones,
and the heart keeps rising
at the sound of any song.
An old magic flows
at the silver calling
of a bell,
rounding,
high and clear.
Falling. Falling.
Sounding the death knell
of our old year,
telling the new appearing
of Christ, our Morning Star.

Now, burst,
all our bell throats!
Toll,
every clapper tongue!
Stun the still night.
Jesus himself gleams through
our high heart notes
(it is no fable).
It is he whose light
glistens in each song sung,
and in the true
coming together again
to the stable
of all of us: shepherds,
sages, his women and men,
common and faithful,
or wealthy and wise,
with carillon hearts,
and, suddenly, stars in our eyes.–Luci Shaw

If you’ve read here long or at my old blog you know I love Advent more than any other time of the year. The order of the liturgical season leading up to celebrating Christ’s birth keeps my heart in a circle of never forgetting. It reminds my soul continually how the plan for Redemption was THE only plan. Throughout the Old Testament there are the hints and guesses that grow into clear signs of who would come to save us. I love spending an entire month so mindful of the miracle. Christmas is a big reflection of what God asks us to do with our lives all year long. He wants us to watch and wait. He wants us to draw near to the simple and humble and the human so we can really finally understand what a sacrifice God becoming man was and is. It’s Grace in slow motion, step by step to Bethlehem.

Growing up in Staunton, Virginia our amazing public library had large reproduction art pieces that were framed, and you could check them out to hang in your home for awhile. I was obsessed with decorating and design since I was a young child. I was always wanting to make my space inspiring and beautiful. My mom would let me check out the art from time to time. My favorite was one of irises printed on a grass cloth type canvas framed in gold. We didn’t grow up with much actual art in our home. There were cross stitch samplers of Bible verses and one big watercolor painting of my sister on a carousel hung over our couch. That’s about it. I didn’t have exposure to art through museums or my schoolwork either. It was just something that felt important to me like a good thread count and the right lighting. It was something I was born hungry for like poetry and architecture. It is something we all need and want at some level if we are honest with ourselves. In many ways the place I grew up became the canvas I studied. Watching the seasons change year after year in the Shenandoah Valley shapes your soul for beauty. All art is born from the master artist, our Creator, and I was blessed to live in the bowels of one of His special studios for many years.

Thanksgiving and the month of December are a time for looking backward and forward. As I play this long year in my mind one of my deepest blessings has been a friendship that came out of a strange and unexpected place. It has grown into part of my healing so deeply I don’t know if one would have been possible without the other. We are different in many ways and kindred in just as many. This creates an honesty and perfect iron sharpening iron way of communicating that is rare. We found out early on we both have a love for all kinds of art and need beauty around us in our day to day to be okay. Besides a whimsical collection from an Ohio watercolor artist Dan and I bought at the beach in North Carolina in 2006, which we have refused to part with during all our losses, we don’t own much meaningful art anymore. In our one year lived in and cherished home we have large walls with just empty space which is okay with us and especially me. I don’t want to hang things just to have something there. Everything in my life now really should reflect meaning and sometimes the empty space is just good. It’s part of the waiting for restoration and healing.

Not long after my hardware removal surgery, the second of three major surgeries in a row this fall, my new friend showed up on my doorstep holding a large piece of framed art to borrow. She had been in my room and even spent time lying in bed with me when I was too sick to get up. She could see I spent most of my hours turned on my left side facing a large blank wall. This particular piece of art had been in her bedroom and brought her encouragement through pain. It’s a stunningly painted forest with the richest colors creating a depth you have to trudge through. You have to explore it layer by layer until you reach this little patch of yellow, yes, light, at the very end of your journey. She brought it on a day I felt so hopeless, so sick, so lost in the woods I could not imagine making it through. She left the painting here for me to borrow. We hung it on the big empty wall I face when I am in bed the sickest. No matter what I could see the light. I could move towards the light. The painting changes depending on the day and the mood and yes, the light, and it has never looked exactly the same twice. I am still caught off guard when I stop to consider it. I still cry when I tell the story of how a little block of the purest shade of yellow somehow helps me believe it is going to be okay.

Several weeks later my friend showed up with a religious piece to borrow. It is in our living room over the mantel. Dan and I sat enjoying our coffee this morning discussing this particular piece. Beyond the literal meaning we have our own interpretations. The angel and light overshadow the struggle below of man. It is a hopeful piece. It came from an artist whose friend knew he was agnostic so he asked him to study Scripture and paint a series of work depicting Biblical stories in prayer of stirring his heart to come to see the truths he held dear. I think I will need to return this piece after the holidays before I become too attached, but it has illuminated our simple holiday decorating and speaks to the spiritual journey we are on this and every Christmas season.

Pulled by the tinsel and things and expectation of things I see the angel speaking to us glad tidings of great joy. Sit down. Be still. Listen to how this aching and hurting and waiting will unfold now. I know there were days and weeks and even months without a sign. You thought I had left you here without a Savior. Your suffering and your broken bodies and hearts will be healed by His stripes. A baby born of a virgin is just the beginning of the miracle. You will be saved! Do you believe? Can Redemption happen so slowly it begins as a shoot from a stump? Can it be as simple as a scene in a manger?

Light a candle tonight.

Take one step.

He is coming.

We have stars in our eyes.

(This is a repost from my blog last December with some personal narrative removed. Glynn Young wrote on his blog, Faith, Fiction, Friends, about the importance of art in his life. It sent me back to read this entry. The Dali is returned now and a Marc Chagall is my newest piece on loan. The sun is shining. I’m exhausted, and my treatment has been delayed until 3:30pm today. My dear friend and art benefactor will take me. Since I returned from the hospital this morning for blood draws I’ve been staring straight into the light. I’d rather go blind than look away.)

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Hello Courage

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“But now you must be strong and not let your courage fail.”–II Chronicles 15:7

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There was very little sleep last night. The intracranial pressure so bad I had to focus on not throwing up. I tried not to cry. This makes the pain worse. My legs twitching kept me restless. My joints burning made every move agony. My mind and heart assaulted by fear and anger and self pity. This is what happens when fighting for treatment takes weeks from sudden onset. All the ground I feel I’ve covered towards healing and happiness is swallowed by more despair.

When I can’t pray I turn to music. Playlists of hymns and spiritual songs fill my thoughts with truth of God’s faithfulness and love and turn my eyes towards Jesus. I also turn to Scripture I’ve memorized. Reciting the promises of God bring my intense fear into perspective.

This morning I pushed my body out of my bed to get Danica ready for school. My head feels like it might explode. I believe this is not because perhaps my shunt isn’t working or the changing pressure due to weather but because my brain is swelling. All these things combined create the perfect storm of suffering. Dan rose very early to take Delaney to school for a field trip to Columbus. The roads were slick. He returned to make coffee and Danica breakfast, and he oozed fear. Everything our family has been through breeds this feeling that the worst will happen. We wrap our children in a bubble wrap of sorts that others cannot understand. Danica’s first words to me were about how her head and tummy hurt. I wanted to keep her home but how could I? She missed her Thanksgiving party and her Christmas program from illness. Her little heart was longing for her first grade Christmas party. She won’t have a parent there. Again. She said as she walked out the door with Dan in her swishy gold skirt, “Mom, I want to stay home, but I want to go.” How could I keep her home knowing I need to have my cath placed today and perhaps even have my first treatment?

My dad is on his way to get me. I am terrified of this puncture and placement. I am heartbroken this is happening to my family and I the week of Christmas.

I read this from Elisabeth Elliot in my quiet after everyone left.

Fear arises when we imagine everything depends on us. We assume burdens God never meant us to carry. How much better to take whatever is troubling us immediately to God, confess our helplessness and perplexity, and do the next thing.

Today I will do the next thing. Will you please pray I will lay my burdens down and rest in His faithfulness and great love for me? Will you ask God to comfort my husband, protect my children and give us all comfort and peace in this?

Here is my prayer in Elisabeth’s words.

Lord, You well know how my flesh and my heart shrink from suffering, and how prone I am to forget that I once determined to follow one who was crucified. Yet in Your human flesh, dear Savior, You, too, shrank from the bitter cup your Father offered. I humbly ask You to strengthen my weakness, forgive my hesitancy, and open my understanding that I may gladly receive the small share of pain which is mine.

Here is the song I played over and over last night.

Earth has no sorrow Heaven can’t heal.

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Come Lord Jesus

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“Lord Jesus, master of both the light and the darkness, send your Holy Spirit upon our preparations for Christmas. We who have so much to do seek quiet spaces to hear your voice each day. We who are anxious over many things look forward to your coming among us. We who are blessed in so many ways long for the complete joy of your kingdom. We whose hearts are heavy seek the joy of your presence. We are your people, walking in darkness, yet seeking the light. To you we say, ‘Come Lord Jesus!'”–Henri Nouwen

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I’ve been toiling over several posts; half written drafts telling stories of my trip to Laity. I’m trying to mine the riches and words are failing me. I am changed in a way a few days would not normally morph a person into someone else. The profound nature of God’s work in me is not something I can tell lightly. I am quietly holding these things in my heart. Much like Mary I am answering, “Be it unto me according to your word.”

I was thrown back into daily life with my Danica getting the tummy flu the Monday night I returned home. She missed school Tuesday and Wednesday, time I would have reflected and written more. I began to feel sick Wednesday and am really not well even now. I have a cough that racks my EDS body and makes a sharp knife like feeling behind my left eye. We had a lovely Thanksgiving at my parent’s home but did not push to decorate that evening. For some reason our traditions are feeling less necessary as the girls get older. We are all willing to relax into this Advent season. We finished decorating our tree today and will begin our candle lighting tonight and readings from Unwrapping the Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp.

More than ever before our little family is not wanting for any one thing. We still sit in ashes in many ways financially and face a new year of immediate appointments that mean deductibles and trips and scans. We have purposed in our hearts to face these hard challenges in January, but for this month we will celebrate the gifts we already have and the one and only gift we really need, our God made man. Tonight we begin following the star, seeking the light and crying out, “Come Lord Jesus.”

Our journey will be quiet, soft and slow.

On repeat.

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