moments when, whatever the posture of the
body, the soul is on its knees....Victor Hugo
For years I have pondered the fact that there are some experiences – religious and not blatantly religious – that seem to speak to me in ways that cannot be communicated with words. I have written about this in at least one previous post. Recently, I had the experience of being a part of a musical a church. I took only a small role, but thoroughly enjoyed the experience. The music was good, the musicians were gifted, and the choir phenomenal, but it was not the music itself that moved me. In one of our final rehearsals, dancers from the Ballet Magnificat were added to the musical and it was like a two-dimensional image all of a sudden sprang into 3D. I have never been one to appreciate dance in this way, but I was moved to tears as I watched the graceful movements of the dancers and the way they interacted with the actors on stage.
I have a similar experience each time I have seen the musical, Les Miserables. I first saw the musical in London in 1987 and have seen it several times since. I have the 3 CD “Complete Recording” of the musical and listened to it dozens and dozens of times. Each time I see the stage performance of hear the music, I feel I experience something brand new and comfortably familiar all at the same time. Though I know what is going to happen in each second of the show, I never fail to cry at certain times. I can offer analysis of the many things I love and appreciate about the musical, but the moment that I do that, I begin to move away from the experience I have when watching or hearing it. (I am looking forward to seeing Les Miz again tomorrow night.)
It is the reflection on analysis vs. experience that has led me to new insights into my emotional/spiritual experiences. I am a bit of a jaded person. I am often suspicious of others and their possible motives. I fear being taken advantage of. I have spent years trying to work out an understanding of God that makes sense to me (while acknowledging that there is a God out there that exists beyond my ability to comprehend.) I have cautiously sought to let down my guard and connect in new friendships. An all of this occurs in a (mostly) reflective, rational, and meticulous way. When I am in this rational, intellectualized place, I am often comfortable, but emotionally “safe”.
Then there are those moments when hearing a gifted musician, seeing a beautiful painting, singing an old familiar hymn, or watching a magnificent play or movie can bypass all that intellectual horse hockey and speak straight to my soul. In those moments, I can find myself moved to tears before I even realize what is happening. There are times when this has been unsettling, but for the most part I have come to accept that even in “secular” setting, these moments are moments of spiritual awareness. In these moments I feel closest to God and to others. In those moments I feel more connected with myself. I sometimes eventually can gain some understanding of what is so moving about a particular experience, it is often the case that these experiences continue to defy explanations that are logical, rational, or verbal for that matter. I thank God for these moments and I pray that in some way, I can be a conduit for others to have these experiences with God.