One of the more delightful pieces of knowledge that I acquired in an anthropology class on the Mayan and Aztec cultures at the University of Kentucky was an insight into one of the tribes of Central Mexico. These were the Tarascan Indians. The Tarascan warriors were so fierce that the Aztecs feared them and were never able to defeat them on their own. The Tarascans only defended their lives and culture. They were non-aggressors. But, with provocation, their response was swift and fierce. This was the only tribe the Aztecs could not defeat until the coming of the Conquistadors.
While researching this tribe, I encountered their creation story. This was the most surprisingly delightful aspect of their culture. While most of their stories about their gods paralleled the bloody one of the Aztecs, their creation story did not. The main god of the Tarascans sang their world into being. There was a song for the stars, one for the earth, one for the creatures and one for the people. What a beautiful thought, concept and cultural story. God singing all of creation into being.
So, I have carried the image of God moving in the void of darkness, taking a deep breathe and breaking into song. Singing with joy, the beauty and wonder of the universe with a crystalline clarity that snapped the stars into place. The moons and planets were a song. The sun and fiery comets were another. God continued singing all things into being. God’s song continued and life sprang forth with the joy of living. Creation hummed and vibrated with life. Creatures begot creatures with their own joy of joining into God’s song. A crescendo of song brought us forth with a death defying climax of a Resurrection from a tomb! And, God’s song continues with the bright possibilities of each and every life. Each of us struggles to find our song, our voice, our place in God’s great symphony of life.
It is at this point, I am reminded of how C. S. Lewis used the image of a beautiful singing beast in his Space Trilogy to unmask a great evil. The singing beast of Perelandra is shy, peaceful and beautiful of voice. Suckled and raised by a mute foster mother that marvels at its song. Evil comes to silence it and destroy the new Eden. This time evil fails. All of our lives are touched by evil, some time, some how. Sometimes it is flagrant and in others subtle and repetitious. In other lives it has the trapping of glamour and fame. Whatever form evil takes it is there to destroy. The closer one draws to God the more difficult the path. Remember the story of “Hinds Feet in High Places.” Unlike the old gospel song lyrics, “you must walk that lonesome valley. You must walk it by yourself…” The 23rd Psalm tells us, “Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil. Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” Unfortunately, the most insidious evil comes in not awakening to the light of God that can dwell within us, singing us into new life.
Finding our song and singing it is not an easy task. Once we awaken to the Song of Life, we must nurture it. As with most of life, there must be the discipline of learning, preparation, practicing, repetition, and performance. In comparison to the time preceding the performance, the actual performance is a blink, a snap and it is over. Once the performance is over, the discipline begins again. There is only mastery in each performance and therein, the satisfaction of the moment. Those who seek the rush and thrill of performance as a constant sensation find an emptiness instead. As in the words to the song, “I can’t get no satisfaction…” Deep soul satisfaction comes in joining in with God in the practice and repetition of life that leads to those peak moments. Our souls are restless until they rest in God. We join in that moment with God’s response and become a servant to another. In the words of St. Francis of Assisi, “What are the servants of God but his singers whose duty it is to lift up the hearts of men and women and move them to spiritual joy?” How much more meaning is given the words, “Sing a new song unto the Lord, let your song be heard from mountain top. Sing a new song unto the Lord, Singing , Alleluia.”