Tag Archives: God’s beauty

“For Everything There Is a Season”

 

snow-dragon-01

Well, rats! My fire is out. I just looked up across the room and, no flame in the fireplace. A sad sight.

I confess, I laid the fire, lit the match, and quit paying attention. Instead of staring at the hearth, I was staring at a blank computer screen and wishing words would start appearing. Moments later, it seems, my fledgling fire fizzled.

A good fire in the fireplace is one of my favorite things. I like living in a place where we have real seasons, where fireplaces are not just decorative, and where I’m just a few hours away from the second most beautiful thing in nature: mountains. The first? Snow, of course. The fact that the two so often go together is nature tipping her hat in a dance of glorious gratitude to her Creator. (No, I don’t have cattle. If I did, my love of snow might be modified.)

Fact is, it’s been a wimpy winter. Sub-zero cold a few nights, yes, but otherwise puny. And don’t broadcast this, but as much as I love Sunday worship and as seriously as I believe that Christians who claim to be serious about Christ ought to try being serious about being in church . . . I always feel like any winter where we don’t get snowed out of Sunday morning church once during the season is a weak winter indeed.

I figure church-going folks like me who are tempted to be religiously hypocritical about their church attendance ought to get an opportunity on one Sunday a year to stay home and relax (in front of a fire) like non-church-going folks who are tempted to be religiously hypocritical about their nonattendance. No hypocrites (that’s all of us at times) are harmed in this once-a-year civilized exchange. And I could hardly be more thankful for our usual one Sunday a winter snow day. (If you think this shows I’m not religious enough to be a preacher, you’ll get no quarrel from me.) But the Lord who said, “The Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath” is neither the sort of Pharisee nor the sort of kill-joy who will begrudge us a snowy sabbatical.

Alas, no snow. The snow dragon that my grandkids know is hibernating under our front yard won’t get to rear his head this year. But even on a better year, snow melts, trees and lights get packed away, and winter bids adieu as some other sweet seasons swing onto the stage.

I know I’m living on borrowed time this year fire-wise. Oh, we’ll still have a cold spell. Count on it. At least one. A late one that fritzes foolish fruit trees. An Easter sunrise service where the sun rises but the mercury in the thermometer forgets to is not that unusual. And I remember a mid-March road-closing due to snow blowing across the highway so thick you couldn’t see. Even in spring, winter will get in a parting shot.

But, no doubt, it won’t be long until my wife issues her annual edict and the decorative candles slide back in where once roaring flames lived and danced and delighted my soul.

God’s age-old wisdom is that “for everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3). I figure that includes snow and green grass and birdies and falling leaves and . . .

Thank God for the beauty of them all!

 

     You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com!

 

Copyright 2017 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.


“We Have Given Our Hearts Away”

 

stradivarius

In one of Jan Karon’s delightful “Mitford” books, the winsome Episcopal priest Father Tim Cavanaugh shares with his dear old organist some lines from the sonnet (1807) by Wordsworth:

The world is too much with us; late and soon,

Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;

Little we see in Nature that is ours;

We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!

I admit it: the English major under my hat has always felt a bit (a lot!) deficient with regard to poetry. I love Father Tim, but the good rector is not only a far better pastor than am I, he has a far better grasp on poetry!

But if I understand Wordsworth’s lines at all, I’m with him. The “world” is far too much “with us.” Twenty-four hour news, one of the scourges of our time, is at least 23 1/2 hours too much, a curse to our souls. And, yes, “getting and spending” occupy far too much of our precious time.

Forgetting that the real “bottom line” of our lives has nothing at all to do with the bottom line of any balance sheet, we hurry and scurry and worry our way through God’s gift of life, and barely pause to really “see” nature or, for that matter, beauty of any kind. We hardly notice the stealthy atrophying of our hearts, the shriveling of our souls.

Ah, but we produce, in hopes that the balance sheet nailed to our tombstone will be quite impressive.

I’m reminded of an interesting article from The Washington Post (“Pearls Before Breakfast” (4/8/07), by Gene Weingarten who tried a fascinating experiment with the invaluable aid of Joshua Bell, arguably the best classical violinist in the world.

At 7:51 on a Friday morning, the 39-year-old Bell stood by a trash can at the Metro subway stop at L’Enfant Plaza in Washing-ton, D.C., and played his violin for 43 minutes as a street musician. Tickets to hear this “street musician” routinely fetch three figures. And, by the way, this “street musician” was playing a $3.5 million Stradivarius violin.

As Joshua Bell played three of the most beautiful violin pieces ever written, the whole thing was captured on video. Sixty-three people walked by before one even slowed his pace. Of the 1,097 people who hurried by, 27 people, barely slowing down, threw $37.13 into his violin case. Seven stopped for just a minute to listen, but there was never a crowd. A few children wanted to stop, but their parents were far too rushed.

Many of those who get off the Metro at L’Enfant Plaza are government workers rushing off to crunch numbers and catalog regulations. Bureau-crats and bean counters rarely have time for beauty. But I’m afraid those of us whose lives they live to complicate have exactly the same disease.

We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!

 

      You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com!

  

 

Copyright 2016 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.


All Genuine Joy Is God’s Joy

 

10599 CD Cover-4 Panel-For Sentimental Reasons.indd

All genuine joy is God’s joy.

And that’s my defense, if I need one, for my new music album (For Sentimental Reasons) that comes out this week.

The album’s already passed the real test: my biggest fans like it. Those would be, of course, my grandchildren.

My four-year-old grandson, more than capable of singing for you a fine, though a bit unusual, medley of “Long Black Train” and “Let It Snow!” (his two favorite songs from my previous albums), has announced that his favorite tune from the new CD is “It Had to Be You.” Nice choice. Since I sing this song as a duet with his mother (who did an incredible job), I was particularly pleased with his choice.

My newest grandchild, a sweet little girl, is just a month old; it’s too early to expect her to review the album verbally. But her parents have recorded her reaction to the songs. I smiled as I watched the video review they sent on her behalf.

At first, she’s fussing a bit, working her way up to a pretty loud cry, but then Mom and Dad start playing the album. Startled, she cries harder for about two seconds, then quietens, snuggles down into the music. I like to think she’s recognizing her PawPaw’s voice, but one thing’s sure: hearing the music, that lovely little lass settles down right before my eyes and sinks into sweet sleep. I love it!

I’m not sure if this music will be that potent an anesthetic for most folks, but if it provides just a little bit of sweet relaxation for many who hear it, I’ll be very pleased. The world needs more of such. More peace. More calm. More beauty. More deep joy.

In the album “liner notes,” I wrote this: “What a privilege to work with so many amazingly talented folks to make this album! Our prayer is that every note sung and played in these sweet old songs is filled with the genuine love and deep joy of the Author of all real love, all real joy.”

I mean what I wrote. You see, my first love will always be singing songs with words that point overtly to God’s love, but real love, real joy, all come from the same Source.

I never thought I’d make a recording composed of some of what have been called the “Great American Songbook” songs, some of the sweetest old “love” songs from, say, the 1920s to early 50s. Of course, some songs from that era have words I just can’t sing. But the ones I chose, I dearly love to sing. Even the ones that may be a little long on “syrup” are sweet musical treasures it’d be a shame for our world to lose.

Don’t worry! I won’t be singing “Unforgettable” or “(I Love You) For Sentimental Reasons” as offertory hymns. But when I do get to sing them, it’s no stretch at all for me to thank God with every note for his gifts of sweet music, a little precious peace, and calm, and, I hope, joy.

Any words, any music, any smiles and gifts and laughter that honor our Lord do not need to be stamped “religious” to truly be God’s.

All real joy is God’s joy.

 

 

        You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com! (Yes, some info about the new album is there, and a sample or a few!)

 

Copyright 2015 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.


%d bloggers like this: