For Jack & Peggy
This past week has been eventful for the Cogdells. On Friday Thomas and I spoke at St. Austin's celebration for The Week of Christian Unity. The school children who comprised the bulk of our audience were engaged and warm with their smiles and applause. I love kids! On Saturday we will be teaching at the Hope Chapel leadership retreat. So I've been doing a good bit of writing, but no blogging.
The most significant event of the past week was a camping accident. Our daughter's boyfriend was lighting the evening fire when he spilled some lighter fluid on his pants. He was airlifted to Brackenridge and later to a burn center in San Antonio. We are thankful to report that Jack is recovering well from his skin grafts. Peggy has been at his side most of the time. Though they seem to be in good spirits, they are apparently lacking in light reading material. This morning I received a text from my daughter requesting a new blog post. How could I refuse?
Below is a short piece I wrote a couple of years ago, with a musical theme for Jack.
The Score Written in Heaven
The first Wittenberg 2017 gathering was held in a small German community called Ottmaring. We met at a retreat center staffed by the Fokolare - a group dedicated to promoting Christian unity and ecumenism since WWII. In our opening meeting, a beautiful, elderly father of the community shared a quote from their foundress, Chiara Lubich. I have pondered her words in my heart ever since.
“The music score is written in heaven.”
When Gottlob spoke those words, they resounded with layer upon layer of meaning to me. Certainly they applied to the role that our meeting might play in God's larger movement of reconciliation. But they are true of every aspect of our lives - from the big visions to the mundane daily chores.
When I was in high school, I played cello in the orchestra. Cellos are a bass instrument, usually playing a supporting, harmonizing role. Often the cello's part includes long stretches of monotonous rhythm keeping. Sometimes they don't play at all. They rest and enjoy the sounds of other instruments. Sometimes cellos carry the melody for a few bars. That was always exciting and rewarding for me. Rarely, I was called upon for a solo, and that was terrifying. What if I messed up? All eyes were on me, and I carried the weight of the whole composition in that moment.
I contemplated this metaphor often that week in Germany. I realized that most of my life is like a rhythm line in a symphony. I cook, clean, teach the children, put them to bed and do it all again the next day. My daily rhythm plays a small part in supporting the whole. If I were to assume my part was unimportant and neglect my daily duties, the whole composition would lose a voice. One lost voice might not be noticeable to the audience, but it would dishonor the Composer. And what would happen if many moms and housewives "dropped out" because their part felt monotonous and insignificant? The whole symphony would lose its foundation.
On the other hand, what if I never practiced the more intricate melody lines? What if I didn't take the time to work them out in my own secret place? Then, when it came time to sing my song, I would be unprepared
I am afraid of the solos, when all eyes are on me. I am tempted to try to give them to other people, or to play them softly to minimize any sour notes I might hit. But that does not serve the symphony. I should work to be prepared and sing my song with joy. Then when it is over, I should sit down and rejoice in the other voices around me.
Some people never like to hand the melody over. Some always play too loudly. Others too softly. Some must wait and wait and wait for their moment on the stage, but the waiting makes their part all the more dramatic. The tympani don't play often, but their thunder can shake a building.
The mystery of this metaphor is that we can never see the full composition. God alone sees the full score. But we can trust the master Musician. We can determine to play our small parts with joy, and to practice in the secret place for the time of our solos. We can support and harmonize with our brothers and sisters when it is their turn to carry the melody. And we can thank our God who gives each person a voice in His symphony.