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Grand Rapids, MI

Embarking Blog

...on the journey towards restoration of all things

Life To Love Resigned

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So I started reading "Little Rivers," and enjoyed it so much that I moved on to others. The second was his collection of poetry (which, by the way, includes such things as the hymn we know as Joyful, Joyful). Then I moved on to other things that were quite fascinating, including his studies of Tennyson, and in particular the Idylls of the King One of the things that Van Dyke does is juxtapose the noisiness of the city with the serene quiet of the outdoors. In one place he describes the city dweller as "the solitary soul hiding in the wilderness of the city." [221] Whether it's in the city, or in the hustle-bustle of the suburbs, we know that feeling. We know that alone feeling in the midst of so many people. Eminem felt it, too. He then describes that feeling - when everything is whirling around you and you feel alone - in such a concise way with the word "noise-weary." I like that.

"...it seemed to them, noise-weary, nothing could be better worth the hearing/ than the melodies which brought order into life's confusion." [Ibid]

Do you hear what he's getting at? He's talking about hearing the song of creation beneath the buzz of busyness that so often carries with it the din of destruction dully chipping away at our hearts. Van Dyke would say that the world longs for a song, a friend, a silence, a beauty to come through the crowd and noise to truly be friend and bring true pieace. [cf. Music, Prelude 2, A Mile With Me, Tribute to Longfellow, Vera] And he borders on what I've been saying in previous posts about the potentially sacramental when we begin to discern this longing and hear the strains beneath the surface. You can hear his longing in this part of a poem...

Ah, when will thou draw near Thou messenger of mercy robed in song? My lovely heart has listened for thee long... [232]

There is a longing here for a resonance with the song of goodness and creation which will bring mercy, balm to brokeness. Here it comes through loud and clear:

Music, in thee we float And lose the lonely note Of self in thy celestial-ordered strain Until at last we find The life to love resigned In harmony of joy restored again; And songs that cheered our mortal days Break on the shore of light in endless hymns of praise. [245]

Ok, so here's my argument again. When we allow ourselves to enter into the strain of the deep songs of goodness and creation (thy celestial-ordered strain), we resonate and our hearts reverberate. We find glimpses of what we're looking for (though, as CS Lewis would argue, we don't find it in full until the fullness is restored and redeemed) in "the life to love resigned." That was certainly Jesus' argument. Check it out:

Make yourselves at home in my love. If you keep my commands, you'll remain intimately at home in my love. That's what I've done--kept my Father's commands and made myself at home in his love. I've told you these things for a purpose: that my joy might be your joy, and your joy wholly mature.

When we immerse ourselves in the song of creation, played in the key of love, we find ourselves at home, intimately with Jesus. That's sacramental, isn't it? To "lose the lonely note of self in [the] celestial-ordered strain until at last we find the life to love resigned in harmony of joy restored again?" And when that happens, when we allow the reverberations of that song in our souls, then "the songs that cheered our mortal days break on the shore of light in endless hymns of praise." We become poets, singers, hymners ourselves because we resonate and reverberate and respond.


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