“Whenever I listen to you, I am transported to the threshold of a world, which in sunlight and storm, by day and by night, is a good and ordered world. Then, as a human being of the twentieth century, I always find myself blessed with courage (not arrogance), with tempo (not an exaggerated tempo), with purity (not a wearisome purity), with peace (not a slothful peace). With an ear open to your musical dialectic, one can be young and become old, can work and rest, be content and sad: in short, one can live.”
-Karl Barth from Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
This last semester, I read a lot of Karl Barth. Now, I’m not sure if having a theological crush on someone is permissible, but if it was, KB would be my number one. After reading some of the hardest and most thought-provoking material in my life, I thought that my brain was going to explode of confusion and excitement, all at once. At the perfect time, I was gifted an extremely small collection of Barth’s thoughts on Mozart. Little did I know, Barth loved Mozart and spent a lot of his life and time studying him and listening to his music. I began reading it with an already exhausted state of mind, and was thrilled to discover that every single page would be more refreshing than the last.
Mozart’s music, for Barth, is a creation that represents this sort of transcendent in between; the rising of the light with the presence of the shadows. God is speaking through art that wasn’t even explicitly made to “praise His name.” Mozart works from an objective standpoint. He is not starting from his own humanness. He is not caught up in a deeply confessional motivation. He is allowing the objectivity of his art form to take primacy and creating from there.
It is the gift of revelation, Jesus Christ, that compels us to participate, and to act. When we no longer are able to recognize life as a gift, than our meaning is derived from human accomplishment, which is fleeting. It is the gifts of revelation that illuminates our understanding and motivates our participation in it. By understanding that God first revealed to us, we can then find joy in what it means to be transported to a life that is full, and a life that is joyful. But, we must have the ears to hear the music, ya know?
All of this to say, I have found myself at a point in my life that a lot of things seem to be up in the air. There are a lot of things that I am unsure of, and a lot of things that I can’t really seem to grab ahold of. But, this sort of floating that I seem to be experiencing makes the objective things that must more clear, and beautiful. And it is those objective truths that I must work from. Those are the starting points, and move from there.
Because it is only then that I can experience the light and the dark.