Saturday, March 21, 2009


It is reported that St. Francis of Assisi once asked God to allow him to hear the music of heaven. The Lord told Francis he knew not what he asked, for the sheer glory of heaven's song would spell certain death. The persistent saint pleaded eagerly, "Can't I hear just one note?" God conceded. As the story goes, Francis awoke from his coma a few days later.
Christopher West, Heaven's Song

In November of 1994, Michael Card released Poiema, an album that is, to this day, one of my favorites. I am listening to it now as I type. The Irish flavour, complete with traditional instruments, captivates me. The marriage of lyric and melody is amazing. Music speaks to the soul and Michael's music continues to encourage and inspire me. He once asked me if I had ever considered painting the Hebrew word chesed. I had already been pondering the expression and seen imagery- the notion of everlasting mercy, the kindness of God. Unfortunately there exists a discrepancy between my imagination and my reality- between what I can 'see' in my minds-eye and the technical ability that limits what my hand can paint. Kathryn Manzo, a painter/teacher extraordinaire (one of my wife's instructors) once told a roomful of painters, "Do not be defined by your limitations and you will exceed your expectations!" So, reconciliation usually occurs and I paint what I can. But there have only been a few times when I was completely satisfied when the paint dried. I took Michael's question as a challenge. A few years have passed.

In 1749, Johann Sebastian Bach completed a missa tota that would come to be known as Mass in B minor. Christoph Wolff said that Bach considered the Mass as "the supreme opportunity to unite his creed as a Christian with his creed as a musician in a single statement." It is believed he never heard it performed in its entirety. John Hodges once told a roomful of teachers, a group I was blessed to be a part of, "everyone should own a copy."

I have several titles- husband, father, son... each depends on who is addressing me. One of my favorite titles is Poiema- one of God's poems, his workmanship.

We are living letters that doubt desecrates

we're the notes of the song of the chorus of faith

God shapes every second of our little lives

and minds every minute as the universe waits by.

Michael Card, Poiema

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