By Melodious Monk
Lord, how can man preach thy eternal word?
He is a brittle crazy glass;
Yet in thy temple thou dost him afford
This glorious and transcendent place,
To be a window, through thy grace.
But when thou dost anneal in glass thy story,
Making thy life to shine within
The holy preachers, then the light and glory
More reverend grows, and more doth win;
Which else shows waterish, bleak, and thin.
Doctrine and life, colors and light, in one
When they combine and mingle, bring
A strong regard and awe; but speech alone
Doth vanish like a flaring thing,
And in the ear, not conscience, ring. George Herbert
The first line of this poem indicates that the poet is portraying a preacher as a window to the divine, but I also venture to see all of us Christians, in one way or another, as a piece of this crazy, mysterious, weak, and powerful glass window.
I love the contrast in this poem, the tension between our brokenness, even our craziness, and the profound awe that can come through us. It’s awe inspiring, and a bit frightening, that this piece of crazy brittle glass, or the ones living next door, or the one I just passed in the grocery store, can glisten a light that reverberates with the power of divine eternity.
When in our ear something of God “rings” for us, something in my bones feels it and hears its silent utterance – in this profound moment I know that something of God is mingling in the air, and inexplicably I am moved forward.
As a musician, I find our work is searching for the right angle to allow “doctrine and life, colors and light” to be expressed as one. Pursuing this collaborative “ring” in sound is why we practice, why we strive to create beauty. For, in my own efforts, I don’t accomplish much, and all I have to show for the work is “bleak, and thin.” But if God’s Spirit and ours are mingled as one, our tiny shard of a fiat has the possibility to ring with a “strong regard and awe.”