An ode to odes

by MW Cook

Do you like music? I sure do. Ever since I can remember I’ve always liked a catchy beat, and after a bit of higher education I began to appreciate music for its deeper qualities. Unfortunately I think I’m a little musically challenged. I’ve been playing guitar for almost ten years now and I’ve attained to the level of average. Be that as it may I think that music is one of the most wonderful things God had given us. Recently I became convinced that music is one of the characteristics of humans being made in the image of God. Did you know there only two groups of beings in the Bible that sing? Man and God. You won’t be able to find a verse that points to an angel singing, it’s only us and God. I love this verse:

The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.
Zephaniah 3:17

(On a mind-blowing side note, can you imagine what it must sound like to hear the almighty God sing?) Have you ever thought about what music really is? Let’s use a guitar for an example. You have six metal strings of specific thickness and you tighten them up to a specific tension. Then you place your fingers on certain spot, changing the relative length of the strings and you hit them, causing them to vibrate. The vibrations resound off the guitar and fly through the air eventually arriving at your eardrums. They move the eardrum around and cause…pleasure. Pleasure is to be had in specific mixtures of specific frequencies of vibrations flying through the air. Kinda odd, eh?

Or think about visual arts. A splash of this pigment and a splash of another, arraigned in a certain shape. Light bombards the canvas and only certain wavelengths are allowed to bounce off while the rest is absorbed. These modified waves of light fly through the air and hit your eyes, producing…pleasure.

I like words. I love to read a poem or listen to a song that has finely-crafted words. One of my greatest ambitions in life is to write a beautiful song and, although I’ve tried, I’ve never been able to do it. I think writing a song must be the most difficult thing in the world. Words give me much pleasure.

But isn’t it interesting how elusive it all is? I don’t love words simply if their content is good, it’s something about how a sentence or paragraph is crafted. Check this out:

Around midnight I was studying some ancient books. Eventually I became very tired and almost fell asleep when suddenly I heard knocking at the door. I assumed it was a visitor.

Now check this one out:

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of someone gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
” ‘Tis some visitor,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door;
Only this, and nothing more.”

Both passages have pretty much the exact same information. The only difference I can see is that my passage is mundane and Poe’s is beautiful. Why is it beautiful? Perhaps because of the careful meter. Perhaps because of the clever rhymes or word images. I really don’t know why, but reading this poem gives me pleasure.

I think pleasure through art is one of the ways that God shows himself to us. I am sure that creativity is a mark of the image of God. I know this because like every other mark is it a source of great joy and great sorrow. The greatest gifts given to us from God are also the most often perverted ones. I think that in the end of it all our creative faculties will be given a boost and I bet that we’ll use them in glory. Can you imagine the creative minds of all the redeemed pooling their resources together to create a masterpiece of praise, all the while God Himself singing and rejoicing over them? Handel would look like a pop star. Robbie Burns would look like a limerick writer. Michelangelo would become a doodler and Shayaman’s films would remind you of an SNL sketch.

We have all been given a little something creative in us, even if that creativity lies only in appreciation. I think God loves creativity. Why else would he command us to write new songs? Sing unto the Lord a new song.

So just an encouragement to all you creative folks out there. Keep being creative and make sure that your creativity points to the Source. Whether you paint, write, sing, dance, cook, exercise, act, direct, play, sew, build, design, photograph, program, or any of the countless creative outlets that I can’t think of. Do it well, and make sure it points to the Source of it all.