(The Long Center / Blue Lapis Light Production)
I am blessed to know creative people. People who understand the need to create, and honor their gifts, and offer sacrifices with a brush or a song or a poem. So a few nights ago I spread out a blanket in front of the sweeping Austin skyline to watch one of my friends dance, thirty feet off the ground, like an eagle taking flight. The choreography was amazing, with dancers zip-lining off the roof and prancing on suspended platforms and circling large pillars on harnesses that reflected their every move on the outdoor ceiling. Through the red light it resembled devils at war, prancing and leaping and crouching low.
And the silks, oh the silks. Without a harness at all, these incredible species of human beings climbed and bowed and swayed and made love to dangling ribbons from the sky, their bodies covered in nude bodysuits adorned with dazzling crystals, and they were the most perfect renditions of angels I’ve ever seen. The daring moves made me gasp and draw in my breath tight as salt ran down my cheeks. Sometimes it was too much, like pictures of children being pulled from wreckage and placed in their mother’s arms or soldiers returning from war. I could scarcely take it in.
And then the duet began, man and woman both dangling in the sky. She was holding onto him as he swung her free and they twirled and climbed and she trusted his grasp, her back arching and his legs splitting strong and they were so deliciously intertwined. And the concept of the marital union pulsed through my veins, remembering St. Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians about how two are forged into one.
A new-age voice came pulsing through the speakers, and though the rendition was new the lyrics were penned in 1752, and I’ve sung it since childhood, and I knew that God was there and is and forever will be, even through storms and death and the rubble of tornado tears.
Be still, my soul: thy God doth undertake
To guide the future, as He has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Because sometimes it’s not enough to express love in words. You have to open your eyes and see it, and shut out the world to hear it, and open your heart and feel it. Sometimes you just have to acknowledge that it’s all too mysterious to explain, and there’s no reason to trust, except you know you must, and you do, and you somehow survive. God is not simply my friend, or my teacher, or level-headed adversary. He is not just a crutch for my weakness or a pillow I grasp up in the long nights.
My God is the creator of the universe in which I stand. He displays love in ways I cannot understand, mercy in a way that I do not deserve, and tears for the lost that is deeper than I can fathom. And I accept this love, and the creative spirit, and the sweat that flows out of the pores of his children. I applaud loud, and stand, and bow my head in thanks.
After the dancers swept across the stage and said their goodbyes, I pointed my car toward home. In that dark and quiet night, I was thankful for the ability to accept mystery through the loud cacophony of life. Love was born into the world at night with a star blazing, and mystery abounded. Such love prayed for the cup to pass in the hours which we comfortably slept, but God bled out our sin into darkness once again. Against the backdrop of the world then, and now, and what is to be. But the rising, it was revealed. The son, He rose. And the beauty that resulted was blinding.
Be still, my soul. At least long enough to take it all in.