When someone whom you grew so close to leaves you it’s interesting how much you learn about yourself. There is pain in the emptiness and loss I feel, but there is also scarring over and healing involved. It’s like a part of my heart has been removed and there will be a hole there for awhile, but it becomes less and less apparent as time goes on. I’ve realized many things about myself. One of those things is I was stunted as a musician because of how much time I invested in that hole in my heart.
I find joy in music again where last year at this time, I was too invested in the hole in my heart. I haven’t forgotten what I learned to love (from before), but I have remembered the love I once had. I have been reminded of the wonder music brings me and the peace that fills my heart when I encounter it. Good music that is. I’ve gone to concerts that I wouldn’t have ever gone to if that hole in my heart was still filled. I am very grateful. Especially tonight.
Tonight my colleagues performed a series of Christmas carols alternating with the words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer on the subject of advent which they titled “Stille Nacht”. As I sat listening to the glorious sounds of the choir and the words of Bonhoeffer as he sat in a prison cell in a concentration camp, I was compelled; I was torn.
The pain Bonhoeffer must have felt at the concentration camp tugged at my heart. He wrote of advent in a prison cell where daily he witnessed devastation, death, and vile acts putrid in the world. But the joy Bonhoeffer spoke of, the coming of Jesus to die on the cross to save the world eased the tension, if only for a second.
It caused me to realize the deep dissatisfaction I feel from this world. When I think about the world, I picture a world that is melting. I picture our humanness covering up our disgusting nature through fabricated order. Order that is not perfectly orderly, but instead contains the chaos. For example, we have stop lights, stop signs, and traffic regulations, to keep order somehow. Even though it is not perfectly orderly to prevent all chaos, it suffices. We have sentence structures that keep order in the words we use, but there are still exceptions. We have architecture that creates perfectly square and rectangular buildings that are neat and orderly. But even in that, there are problems that arise, and issues that need to be sorted out, and in the end, the building is not perfect, there are still flaws. But there is beauty in our chaos. In our incompleteness and humanness. In our weakness there is beauty.
As Christians it’s like we are stuck in the center of a tornado, the calm of the tornado is within us, but the world around us rages on. Our savior came to save us, he was born and it was glorious. Jesus came to earth as a man and he walked where we stand, he breathed the same air we breathe, and he drank the same water we drink. Perfection met absolute, pure imperfection and chaos. But in order for Jesus to save us, he had to be nailed to a cross and crucified, humiliated, and killed.
In the eerie silence of the night Jesus was born are the whispers of his coming and ensuing death. God’s gift to mankind brings great joy and hope, but in that joy and hope there is pain and suffering. I pray that this Christmas season would be a reminder of Jesus’ birth. The joy of baby Jesus’ cry and the peace he brought to mankind. But let us not omit the price God paid for us through the death of his son. Advent is a time of waiting and expecting, but advent is also a time of ambivalence. In the silence, there was great joy, and in death, there was great life.