I’ve written before on the topic of love as a duty requiring obedience, as commanded in the Bible in different passages, the “Great Commandment” (Matthew 22:36) or the “New Commandment (John 13:34),” for example. But there are other facets to the shining diamond. Besides duty, there is Joy.
Some great pieces of music evoke a presence of tenderness that comes into a room and touches your heart, opening it to the good, to God. Mozart’s music opened a window into my spiritual emotions, sang out from the window ledge in a voice that expressed my inexpressible feelings of worship and reverence. I’ve felt this from other composers as well, Dvorak and Rutter being others. One morning my meditation found good companionship in the Kyrie of Mozart’s C minor Mass playing on the radio (http://www.kdfc.com/). It captured a feeling of God as a Father’s presence, a source of love and tenderness that sweetened the vaults of space.
The C minor Mass, a tapestry of music weaving together many meanings, taps into deep ancestral memory and profound emotions for me. The greatness of God is also in it, a greatness that does not overwhelm, dominate or crush one’s feelings or aspirations. Though we might find such loving tenderness from the First Source and Center overwhelming!
In his music Mozart understood in full, perhaps by means of a revelation to his soul, the comforting care of a Creator for his children, a refuge from the confusion and cacophony of a strife-torn world. As St. Paul wrote in his letter to the Corinthians, “The mind alone could never discover or fully fathom what God has revealed to us by his Spirit,” (1 Cor. 9.10). Hindu meditation systems also teach us to travel in our minds beyond a vocal level of thought to discover a consciousness of Spirit http://www.tm.org/. So too can music go beyond thought to make a revelation to the soul.
Pope Francis is hearing the same music I’ve been hearing. In his seasonal message last December he emphasized the tenderness of God, “If the father and mother spoke to them normally, the child would still understand; but they want to take up the manner of speaking of the child. They come close, they become children. And so it is with the Lord.” … the father and the mother also say ridiculous things to the child: ‘Ah, my love, my toy . . .’ and all these things. … This is the language of the Lord, the language of the love of a father, of a mother. The word of the Lord? Yes, we understand what He tells us. But we also see how He says it. And we must do what the Lord does, do what He says and do it as He says it: with love, with tenderness …” (http://en.radiovaticana.va/storico/2013/12/12/pope_francis_be_silent,_so...)
Above the din, the noise of warfare, voices come forward to meet our yearning for the triumph of love. I recently read Wendell Berry and Gary Snyder’s new book “Distant Neighbors,” a collection of their correspondence, http://www.amazon.com/Distant-Neighbors-Selected-Letters-Wendell/dp/1619... Wendell tells his friend, poet Gary Snyder, that he regrets how far he took the adolescent stage of rebellion. I think Berry’s late understanding in life of the hurt such an estrangement can cause recalled my own experiences of regret, pain I allowed, love I failed to give my family members. My love fell short of what I aspire to now in my spiritual or religious life, measured by my experiences of God’s love.
When the curtains of sorrow are drawn back on a new morning, the sweet and tender affection of the Creator of our universe reveals itself. This morning I praise this greatness of God whose love we sometimes stumble over where it lays in the road, where we neglected it, abandoned on the path, as we rushed away in haste. Now inspired by God’s love, “the greatest thing in the world” (as Paul wrote to the Corinthians; and author Henry Drummond used as a book title, http://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/59853.Henry_Drummond)
we are led to name it God the Father. May people find it’s reality behind the curtains they’ve closed on the world for self-protection, behind the memory of their own fathers who may have let them down.
"Try my heart, Lord, … for your loving-kindness is before my eyes" (Psa. 26:2-3). Long before Jesus made a “new revelation” of the divine nature to our world, the ancient Psalmist discerned the goodness of Jehovah, or the Most High (whatever name they knew God by at the time). Jesus quoted from Old Testament scriptures (Torah), such as Psalm 92: “It is a good thing to give thanks to the Lord and to sing praises to the name of the Most High, to acknowledge his loving-kindness every morning and his faithfulness every night, for God has made me glad through his work.”
We saw loving-kindness in action when Jesus lived and taught a life of service. In Mark 33-35, Jesus said to his followers, “I heard you arguing on the way here today. What were you arguing about?” But the apostles did not answer, because their argument on the road was about which one of them would be the greatest. He said, “Whoever wants to be the most important must make others more important than themselves. They must be a servant of all.”
The gospel of John says Jesus “was full of grace and truth (John 1:14).” Love flowed effortlessly from his presence, not a love that was commanded (as in the commandments found in the Bible), but one that flowed out of him quite naturally. Perhaps by dutifully following the commandments to love every day, we will arrive at a more natural state of joyful loving and relaxed giving. His “graciousness was the unrestrained expression of the kindly self-forgetting and tranquil mind” (The Strategy of Jesus, by Calkins)
“My religion is kindness,” said Dalai Lama and such divine love has the power to save the planet.