Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Something Wonderful This Way Comes


With thanks to Brother Steve Erspamer

It is one of my favorite moments in the service.

I enter the great church and find my rigid wooden pew, bowing and sliding in where I wait quietly, meditatively, prayerfully for the Holy Eucharist to begin. When it does, it is not with a voice from the pulpit, but with a crescendo of honeyed melody and dulcet harmony.

The music moves through the great hall of Grace & St. Stephen’s cathedral like something alive, like smoke. It dances among the images on the magnificent Quire stained glass, made luminescent by the soft fall light outside. It scales the sides of the great stone walls, licking at the vaulted trusses and beams that support the great wooden roof. It creeps down the Nave and swirls around my feet. I hear it, inhale it through my nostrils and feel it ever so gently caress my skin. As the choir lends their voices to the pipe organ, at once thunderous and hushed, it is like something out of medieval memory, like a passageway through time has been opened and for a moment, the sounds of an ancient faith pour through.

The clergy enter, following a choral procession that winds its way around the circumference of the structure, through the Nave and up onto the Chancel where all take their place.

But not before passing where I sit.

And for a moment—just a moment—I am a member of the choir.

As they snake their way past me, my voice blends with theirs and I find my chest swelling, my volume rising, my voice clearer. I lose my individuality and for the briefest of moments, become a part of something larger, more perfect, and more beautiful than I could ever be on my own. My voice disappears in a sea of perfect unison where the discord created by inadequate, though striving voices is replaced by unspoiled harmony.

Life is a lot like that, I think.

You want to be a better person, live a more perfect and righteous life, be a better husband, citizen, man, child of God—then surround yourself with others who are ahead of you on the serpentine pathways of life. Allow their wisdom, their acumen, their insights to inspire and guide your steps. Spend time in their company or in the company of their thoughts and allow your mind, your heart, your efforts to meld with theirs. Be immersed. Allow your selfishness and narcissism to be swallowed by something greater and more powerful than yourself.

It is astonishing how much stronger is my resolve, how much more muscular my faith, how much more focused is my goal when I purposefully set out to walk in the footsteps of the beautiful minds and elegant hearts of more mature saints, buttressed by the very proximity of my soul to theirs.

These days, I think about that every time the choir brushes past me. Every time ill-fitting metaphor brushes past enlightenment and enlightenment brushes past revelation and revelation brushes past action and action brushes past the very will and heart of God.

Why do I sing? I sing because I hear God singing.

7 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful experience. I will certainly be thinking of your account of the anglican service when I stand to sing the processional hymn on Sunday. And I so understand your feelings as I feel the angels and saints are singing with us!

8:38 AM  
Anonymous Heidi said...

I really enjoy your posts. Sorry I don't reply more often. You feel more and more like a brother to me as time goes on.

8:39 AM  
Anonymous Father Walker said...

Brandon:

Thank you, thank you. You have just articulated the heart of All Saints! You words may show up in my sermon on November 5!

I'm also going to send the article on to Frank Shelton for the choir's edification.

Theron Walker

6:58 PM  
Anonymous Bethany said...

Wow...

6:59 PM  
Anonymous Frank said...

Hi Brandon, Thank you for such an extraordinary description of the music!!

If you have time sometime, it would be great if you could take some photos of the choirs.

Thank you for all you do to help us in our ministry at Grace.

My best,

Frank Shelton

7:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sweetie,

This is a really beautiful piece. It's nice to see such a lyrical, poetic blog from you. The others are good, too, but it's this kind of writing of yours that made me fall in love with you :).

yours,
Stephanie

7:05 PM  
Blogger Reacher said...

I think you sound like a girl.

Just kidding. Beautiful words from a beautiful man.

Now I sound like a girl.

4:36 PM  

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