I'm writing this now because, as I often mention, I get reset every morning. Regardless of what went on the day before, I always wake up a new person - sometimes happy, usually neutral leaning towards cynical, and sometimes nasty. I want tomorrow to be different, because today was so good. Today I know God is real and working out a grand plan. Today it started with music.
There's an amazing song arranged by Jon Schmidt called "Love Story meets Viva la Vida" because it's Jon on the Piano and some other guy on the cello first playing Taylor Swift's Love Story and then transitioning seamlessly into Viva la Vida. It stirs my soul, and alters my mood for the better, casting a generally deep and intriguing atmosphere over all of my thoughts. The song seems to subliminally encourage me to look deeper into thoughts, feelings and events, and I actually listened to it while I got caught up in my Bible reading.
The day before I had received The Weight of Glory, by C.S. Lewis, and started reading the title essay before going to sleep. I got about a third of the way through, and a couple of concepts hit me. I was affected most deeply by the idea that longing and the apprehension of beauty are very closely related, if not the same emotion. The concept resonates with the core of me for two reasons.
First, as Lewis mentions, that fact is good evidence that there is a Heaven, and that God is there. We experience longing when we see something beautiful because we have a sort of residual understanding, unmarred by the fall, that there is a place we haven't yet been, that we have been searching for all our lives; that there is something (Someone), some source, from which all the beauty we see with our eyes comes, and to which all that beauty points. This is far better to me than any alternate explanation of our feelings of beauty and longing in response to the beautiful, which is important for my peace of mind.
Second, I am also gripped by the concept because it seems so very real. I have been consciously keeping an eye out for months for something that I could hold onto - something that would be sufficiently ubiquitous in my daily experience to hold me close to God even when I didn't directly feel his presence. The fact that beauty is longing screams to me that there is a whole other class of beauty out there somewhere, of which the earthly beauty I see everywhere is but a mere suggestion.
C.S. Lewis also elaborates on the nature of that longing. When I listen to my beautiful music, I want to just dive into it. I want to eat it, become one with it, swish my feet around in it and then slide my whole body in. When I see a beautiful sunset, or the aftermath on a berry-bush of an ice storm, or the red and yellow autumn leaves, contrary to all worldly reason I desire - so badly it hurts - to join myself to that glory. Those desires are not satisfiable in this world, so why are they there? God loves us, and created us to worship him with our whole being forever. This is the greatest satisfaction we can attain, and is far more satisfying than anything we have ever yet experienced. And now one huge piece of evidence for it is felt in my bones, and surrounds me on every side.
"Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!"
[This essay first posted while at Cornell, around 2009.]