Friday night I went with a friend to hear another friend play in the Albuquerque Philharmonic Orchestra. These ladies are from the school community where we wear our “mom” hats or “teacher” hats. Beyond that context, we can be more than what our hats describe. For instance, this one mom is a violinist in her spare time when she is not saving lives as a doctor. (Then there is me whose hidden talent apparently is yelling at my children when not dancing with them in the kitchen to Uptown Funk.)
The concert was in a catholic church on the other side of town whose arched sanctuary did not disappoint in delivering great acoustics. It had been awhile since I heard live orchestral music. I am so glad I took the time to treat myself. To be honest, I am not often choosing to listen to classical music. When the local NPR station hits those hours of Performance Today between Morning Edition and Native American Calling, I am usually switching to my old school station to see how much of the “You Be Illin'” lyrics I accurately recall.
But hearing the instruments LIVE lifts me above the stiff, hard pews and carries me to sublime sweetness. For a moment I can allow my soul nourishment from all those things that leave me hungry. Enduring racism. Abject poverty. Educational inequalities. Childhood leukemia. Institutional injustice. Oppressive dictatorships. Death. Those things that lately have left me saying, “What the F, God?” It may sound sacrilegious, but if He is truly omniscient He already knows what I am thinking. And if He is truly unconditionally loving, I can come to Him as I am. Confused. Frustrated. Hurt. Angry. Grieved.
The music does not solve anything, give answers, or take away the hunger. Yet it gives in that moment a glimpse of true beauty that reminds me that suffering is not without redemption even in those instances that seem too far for redemption’s reach. Perhaps the coexistence is not strange but often inseparable. The composers who were able to create such art must have had their share of the varied human experience. Without the extended range of pain and joy, would they be able to produce such sounds that cause one to cry simply by listening? There is something in those moments of hunger that signify sacred, holy ground. A wanting. A need. And a hope of fulfillment. The Advent season. There are glimpses of beauty in the midst of hunger that satiate the soul in that moment to remind us that promised fulfillment is on its way. Until the day of full completion comes, I am thankful for those glimpses.