The Music In The Middle
There is an old story that I read recently about the semi-mythical Middle Eastern "wise" man Nasr-ed-Din--a character who often exhibited bizarre behavior in order to convey a larger truth about life, God and the universe.
It seems Nasr-ed-Din was sitting in the village square playing his guitar, but only playing one note--over and over again.
Finally, after hours of this, a man from the village approached Nasr-ed-Din and said: "That's a nice note you are playing Mullah, but why don't you vary it a bit the way other musicians do?"
Nasr-ed-Din paused for a moment, gazed at the man and then said shortly:
"Those fools, they're searching for the right note. I've found it."
The point of the story is one that we all should take to heart: While it's wonderful to be right and certain---sometimes our certainty sounds like one note playing over and over again... and not really at all like music.
I read this bit of a poem by Wallace Stevens a few days ago, and it has been circling around my mind ever since. He writes:
I do not know which to prefer,How amazing is that?
The beauty of inflections
Or the beauty of innuendoes
The blackbird whistling
Or just after...
The poet confesses that he finds just as much beauty and resonance in the unknowing as the knowing... in the middle spaces... the liminal moments in between things where nothing is all that certain.
It's hard for us to find beauty in uncertainty when we have a great deal at stake, isn't it? When our future is uncertain... our feelings about God... our finances... relationships... that is when it easy for us to long for the solitary note of rightness, certainty and knowing.
But if there will be music in our life... if we would live in the midst of in-between moments of symphony or foot-stomping dance tunes... if we would hear in our unknowing the crunch of guitar and driving bass... if we would be thrilled by the sing-song, beats of hip-hop liminality...
Then we need to admit that the middle spaces are beautifully filled with a melody and rhythm all their own.
And maybe that is where the most incredible music is created and performed.
May you discover the beauty of uncertainty and find music there that fills your soul with joy. And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.