On my drive in to work this morning a Coldplay song came on. Shortly after the initial tune hit my ears some sort of energy seemed to bypass my mind and nudge my soul. The melody set off a split second chain reaction that moved me to pray for a friend who was hurting.
It’s not easy to put something like that into words. And often times an attempt at forming words to describe something orchestrated by the spirit only serves to dilute the moment for what it was.
Love… Death… Suffering… God… Eternity… These are what Franciscan priest, Richard Rohr calls The Big 5. And these are elements of the human experience that scientist and theologians have spilled a lot of ink on to explain to us.
While the countless writings and explanations throughout history have been helpful in our ability to speak of the Big 5, ultimately words don’t fully quench what the heart feels.
This is why I listen to the music...
It’s not just music but all forms of artistically expressed sacraments. Many are just so ordinary that they fail to pull us away from our “smart” phones long enough to feel it. The sunset, the rain, a decorated canvas, good poetry - all are among an unlimited universe of symbols that transform into the very voice of God when the sensory function of our soul allows it.
The Psalmist touched on the senses of our soul when he said, “The heavens declare the glory of God. The skies display his craftsmanship.” (Psalm 19: 1)
When words come up short we are invited to open up our senses to the sacraments.
Speaking of the sacrament of baptism, Thomas Merton said, “For it gives us our personal, incommunicable vocation to reproduce in our own lives the life and sufferings and charity of Christ in a way unknown to anyone else who has ever lived under the sun.”
...the life and sufferings and charity of Christ.
Whether within the church or the sacraments beyond those doors there's a movement transcending the limitation of words. (Can you hear it, congress?)
So, I'll stop adding more words and open up the senses.