My heart is aching. I can hardly keep the tears from pouring out of me. There is so much ugliness. I turn off the TV so I don’t have the visual playing in my mind’s eye like a rerun that won’t go away. Getting pulled over because a light was out is not supposed to end in a brutal killing. And that’s only one of so many incidents that, as their memory surfaces, I literally feel sick to my stomach and have to fight a gag reflex. And now vindictive hate has taken more lives in Dallas, this time of public servants. (I read news of this after having written what follows, but it still applies.)
Where is our salvation from ourselves? What does salvation even look like, feel like and would we know it if we saw it? And if we knew it, would we embrace it?
I overheard salvation this morning on the radio. I was lifted, briefly, out of despair by notes written almost 300 years ago. J.S. Bach could never know how much hope he composed. For centuries, the music he penned has been sung and played in churches, concert halls, schools and homes.
Wachet Auf, Sleepers Awake, was written in 1731 based on a hymn by Philip Nicolai about the parable of the 10 virgins; some are ready and some are not. The parable is most often recounted during the season of Advent, when we are preparing for the coming of Christ. Ready or not, here he comes. Are we ready to receive the salvation of the world that comes again and again?
I thank God for the creative spark J.S. Bach allowed to light our dim world with divine beauty. Beauty is an antidote for the ugliness around us. It is not the only antidote, but it is a powerful one.
Seeking beauty, creating beauty, appreciating beauty can build community and hope. Seeking and creating what is beautiful, whether a painting, music or loving relationships, lights up the shadowed places of our world with hope.
Famed psychologist and teacher, Rollo May wrote,
“The strange thing about beauty is that it wipes away all boundaries and inspires us to realize our common humanity. Our destiny interweaves us with each other and our arts make every war nowadays a civil war, a war against our brothers and sisters no matter what nation they happen to belong to.” (My Quest for Beauty, 1985, p, 225)
God Who Touches Earth With Beauty is a hymn written about one hundred years ago. God still touches the earth with beauty. Creating beauty, embracing it is part of our salvation and the salvation of the world. We need hope to not give up on building kingdom of God. Beauty can sustain the hope we need; we need beauty to comfort and inspire us. Seek out an experience of the beauty because through it you can receive the touch of God.
To hear Sleeper’s Awake go to: