November 1st, exactly one month ago, was my last day at home in Itapecerica da Serra, and definitely the most memorable last night on record. After we had all survived the excitement of Camila’s wedding, my brother Antonio suggested doing something fun and special to celebrate before I headed back to the jungle, and together we decided that visiting the Sala São Paulo for a concert would be just the thing. Since these plans were made a bit on the last-minute side (as most brilliant plans are), it took some effort and planning to coordinate everyone’s schedules, but Antonio worked it all out for the family to go. Our dad, who isn’t actually a big fan of classical music, and preferred to spend the evening babysitting his adorable grandson, passed his ticket on to Danilo, our married brother. So it was the five of us that went.
For you to appreciate just how unforgettable our night at the orchestra was, you have to understand that after two years in the jungle, my soul was almost starving for beautiful, classical, live music. I knew I missed it, but hadn’t realized how much until the hunger started to be satisfied, bit by bit, during October.
First came the chance to play a piano while waiting for an event to start. It was only for half an hour, but oh! A real piano! It had been nine months since I had played an electric keyboard, and 14 months since I had touched the keys of a real piano, so this was a rare treat. My mom and brothers sang along on a couple hymns, which was fun, and brought back special memories.
Just the chance to attempt to make music awakened something in my soul that had fallen asleep. While I sing every day in my little jungle home, singing is not the same as playing piano – following the measures in a hymnal, four fingers at a time, blending the carefully-chosen chords and harmonies. Delight! Even now imagination brings back the beautiful sounds of the last few measures of The Solid Rock, when I finally played them correctly after several tries.
The second magical musical moment happened when someone left a guitar at the house. I can’t remember which brother picked it up first, but when he started to play…oh the beauty! It almost made me cry. When there were instruments at home, playing music used to be part of the everyday routine, so I had really missed listening to it. Both Gustavo and Antonio are very gifted musicians, whose playing glorifies God in a remarkable way. The beautiful melodies they create fill the hearts of those who hear them with wonder, joy, and worship.
And then we went to the orchestra. The classical pieces composed by Beethoven, Hummel, and Rossini, and played by the world-famous Sao Paulo orchestra were indisputably another level of beauty altogether. I told myself to remember and treasure each moment and measure, so that I could savor them later when in need of that type of beauty. For although I am surrounded by beauty every day here in the jungle – the natural beauty of tropical plants, the linguistic beauty of a tonal language, the human beauty of smiles and friendships, a corner of my soul had been longing for another type of beauty for a long time. That yearning was satisfied by a special night of music a month ago, and I am thankful.
Music, at least in my heart, does something that no other type of beauty can do, nourishing and speaking to me in a special way. Music of the caliber we heard that night, instantly prompts my soul to step into God’s presence, worshipping Him as the Creator of all beauty, the One who deserves my love and life
As we listened, drinking in the beauty of our surroundings and the music, wishing it could go on forever, my thoughts drifted to a place where beauty will never end. There, the music will be so glorious, that in comparison, I suspect that those brilliant orchestral masterpieces will seem as inept as my five-year-old self playing “Do a Deer” with one finger. In 2 Corinthians, Paul writes that “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” I would venture to guess that these unimaginable things include music, one of God’s great gifts to us, and thus especially appropriate to offer back to Him in worship.
In the car on the way home, we talked about music nourishing the soul, and about the many types of beauty there are in the world. We considered how all beauty points us to Jesus, and increases our longing for eternity.
Then my brother mentioned how deeply he was impacted by The Lord of the Rings movies. I haven’t watched them, so this will be based on his comments, as well as I remember.
Antonio said that the movies do a masterful job depicting a world dominated by ugly beasts and malignant forces. They show the power of evil in a way that makes you feel sick, drawing you into despair and hopelessness, because it seems impossible that the evil will ever be defeated.
But then, at the end, in the darkest hour, in stark contrast to the reality which has been presented throughout the entire movie, a good wizard comes and defeats the seemingly invincible evil. Light and goodness and beauty prevail!
All of that is a copy and reflection of truth, giving us a small glimpse and understanding of God´s omnipotent power and authority.
All cultures and individuals are contaminated by sin, yet despite that knowledge, it is hard to see the darkness of deception, pain, and guilt in this people group that I love. Hearing details of the war that the devil waged on them, the lies he used to cause the literal death of family members of my dear friends, triggered sorrow and anger. I also felt the darkness of fear and doubt in my own heart as I wrestled to not react according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit, depending on Jesus alone. He used these hard situations to remind me of who He is and what He will do.
At the end of time, in a way even more remarkable than any movie could portray, our God will gloriously triumph over all the evil in the universe. When all we can see and feel is ugliness and darkness and despair, we must remember His promise that in the end, the truth and beauty and goodness and light and power of Jesus Christ will prevail, making all things right and all things new.
And just as I finish editing this post, the generator turns off, allowing a beautiful jungle lullaby to be clearly heard. The instruments playing tonight are steady rain on the thatch roof, voices of birds, and insect songs of a thousand varieties. On November 1st, God blessed me with orchestra music and special family time. And that night, I felt so loved. On December 1st, He blesses me with the music of nature and special time with Jesus. And tonight, I feel so loved.
If I can live by the truths mentioned in this post, and rejoice in whatever types of beauty are part of each day, always keeping my eyes on Jesus, the One altogether lovely, my heart will never be truly hungry or afraid or in despair, though feasts of beautiful, soul-filling music might be few and far between.