Friday, May 30, 2008
Thursday, May 29, 2008
"He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul . . ." Psalm 23:2. Lake Michigan presents stunning evidence of God's care for the sons of men; in it God has provided for both physical and spiritual renewal of His creatures.
Physically, we barely comprehend how dependent we are on this superbly designed entity. We recognize easily enough that no one can live without drinking water and using it for hygienic purposes. Commerce and trade with distant states and countries is made possible through vital waterways. The water supports a world of life forms which produce oxygen and build up the food chain. The lake constantly renews itself and purifies the environment through the natural processes God set in motion. Had a human artist or engineer conceived such a marvel—such beauty, such efficiency, such utility—he would be an object of worship. His name would never die on the lips of human beings.
"The voice of the LORD [is] upon the waters: the God of glory thundereth: the LORD [is] upon many waters, Psalm 29:3. This is as close to mysticism as I come. I know only that God's voice makes itself heard without doubt in the glory of the waters. Christianity is not required for humans to acknowledge this, intentionally or inadvertently. Real estate along the water sells for a significantly higher price than property located elsewhere. Created in the image of God, hardwired with His aesthetic, the human spirit is instinctively attracted to and responsive to this beauty.
Those waters not only restore my equilibrium, they absolutely unchain my spirit. I am reminded of the words of our Savior: "Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest." I am convinced this is one way God gives rest to his creatures. In its wholly unconstrained effect, the compelling cadence of westbound waves rolls the weight from my shoulders and pulls the tension from my muscles. My eyes can find nothing but delight in the rocky shore and the blue jewel of the marina. My mind searches the heavens in wonder at the Creator and consummate artist who invented this transcendent experience for the human creature. Surely it was created only for me!
All heartsick people come to the water. The mere sight of those great waters floods the soul with balm and healing, no matter how heavy the burden. I observe the faces of those who pass by, and it is plain that many seek healing for a wounded spirit and restoration of soul. We all find some measure of it there, in the majesty of God's creation. To regenerate and unconverted alike, the waters testify to the genius of their Maker and shout His praise aloud. Lake Michigan is a powerful communiqué to those who have ears to hear.
Overview: Lake Michigan, the second largest Great Lake by volume with just under 1,180 cubic miles of water, is the only Great Lake entirely within the United States. Approximately 118 miles wide and 307 miles long, Lake Michigan has more than 1,600 miles of shoreline. Averaging 279 feet in depth, the lake reaches 925 feet at its deepest point. The lake's northern tier is in the colder, less developed upper Great Lakes region, while its more temperate southern basin contains the Milwaukee and Chicago metropolitan areas. The drainage basin, approximately twice as large as the 22,300 square miles of surface water, includes portions of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin. Lake Michigan is hydrologically inseparable from Lake Huron, joined by the wide Straits of Mackinac.
References: Great Lakes Atlas, Environment Canada and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 1995
Friday, May 23, 2008
Monday, May 19, 2008
Loveliest of trees, the cherry now
Is hung with bloom along the bough,
And stands about the woodland ride
Wearing white for Eastertide.
Now, of my threescore years and ten,
Twenty will not come again,
And take from seventy springs a score,
It only leaves me fifty more.
And since to look at things in bloom
Fifty springs are little room,
About the woodlands I will go
To see the cherry hung with snow.
by A. E. Housman (1859-1936)
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
The role of the Levitical priesthood is a most interesting one. Levi’s descendants were the people to whom God entrusted the protocols for His worship—protocols carefully devised by God Himself and revealed to the prophet Moses. These included the ceremonial laws for blood sacrifices, guidelines for art and artifice used to beautify the worship environment, priestly attire, purification rituals, and regulations for daily life.
For the Israelites, the act of worship did not cease upon their exit from the temple. Every aspect of life was a continuation of the sanctification begun with the offering of sacrifice and prayer. This idea surfaces in Apostle Paul’s consciousness in writing Romans 12:1, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.”
I Chronicles 9:33—And these are the singers, chief of the fathers of the Levites, who remaining in the chambers were free: for they were employed in that work day and night.
The Book of Psalms is the “hymnbook” of Israel. Many of the Psalms were written by King David, some by Asaph, a leading-edge Levite, and others by anonymous authors, but all were meant to be sung. The quality of poetic expression, especially in the King James Version, is very lovely. Some, like Psalm 148, practically sing themselves off the page.
Parenthetically: we as Christians should rethink singing the Psalms and teaching them to our children. Additionally, these rich Psalm texts offer wide opportunity for young composers. To be continued . . .
Monday, May 12, 2008
for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky;
and for everything which is natural
which is infinite which is yes (i who have died
am alive again today, and this is the sun's birthday;
this is the birthday of life and love and wings:
and of the gay great happening illimitably earth)
how should tasting touching hearing
seeing breathing any-lifted from the no
of all nothing-human merely being
doubt unimaginably You? (now the ears of my ears awake
and now the eyes of my eyes are opened)
e. e. cummings
Thursday, May 1, 2008
I am in need of music that would flow
Over my fretful, feeling fingertips,
Over my bitter-tainted, trembling lips,
With melody, deep, clear, and liquid-slow.
Oh, for the healing swaying, old and low,
Of some song sung to rest the tired dead,
A song to fall like water on my head,
And over quivering limbs, dream flushed to glow!
There is a magic made by melody:
A spell of rest, and quiet breath, and cool
Heart, that sinks through fading colors deep
To the subaqueous stillness of the sea,
And floats forever in a moon-green pool,
Held in the arms of rhythm and of sleep.
by Elizabeth Bishop