Music can represent tensions and resolutions. ~Jeremy Begbie
Although not wanting to revisit the memory, I had to choose Samuel Barber’s Nocturne which represented a time of darkness and anguish for me. This seemed like the perfect piece to represent Holy Week’s tensions and resolutions in Life Revealed, a program of music, reading, and art reflecting Jesus’ life and how our lives are newly created through Christ. Going back to music in 2007 and creating Life Revealed helped pull me out of a time of desolation. Barber’s Nocturne was tied to some of that darkness as I performed it in a recital at college not long after Mom died. I have always struggled with perfectionism, so in college my unsuccessful attempt to perform it by memory along with embarrassment over making numerous mistakes caused me to run back to my dorm room sobbing. When I relearned it years later, I was in a very different place in my spiritual journey. Barber’s musical tensions through overlapping melodic passages and weeping motifs began to make more sense to me. I grew to love the piece; especially the beauty in its hope-filled ending.
The sky has fallen and no one seems to notice. Mountains have fallen into the sea and people are oblivious. Floods cover the land, and tornadoes topple the buildings, and earthquakes divide the land. Everywhere I look there is nothing but devastation, and yet, everyone goes about their business as usual. O God, my life is destroyed, but people go to the bank and to the store. They eat and they drink, and I crumple under the weight of my heart. O God, it is the end of the world! Why aren’t people weeping and wailing? Why isn’t the world on its knees asking forgiveness? The whole world is one great wailing wall and I will live here forever! God Almighty, why am I all alone? Couldn’t you, O God, come and sit with me by the waters of Babylon? Couldn’t you come and sit with me on the rubble of the Temple? Please, O God, rebuild my world! Have mercy on me, for I am all alone. No one sees that the sky has fallen, no one, O God, no one, but you. All-knowing God, you are the only one who can put the stars back in place. Take pity on me and hold up the sky. I will walk by the river of hope, and you will find me there, and you will reach out your hand and push the heavens back into place, and I will kneel and give thanks, for you will be with me. You will put the stars back in the sky. ~Ann Weems (Lament Psalm Thirty -Five)