Sunday, February 17, 2013

Musical Ponderings and Adventuresome Wanderings

If C.S. Lewis wrote songs, his name would be Andrew Peterson. Well, that logic falls apart pretty fast, but I want to draw the connection between the two men as they are both great story tellers. 

Allow me to introduce you to the lyrical brilliance of Andrew Peterson—if you are unfamiliar with this talented singer and author. With a folksy, acoustic edge he weaves musical magic that ponders the universe, its Creator, and all of the ordinary stuff of life that becomes extraordinary when touched by God. 

His song “Planting Trees” made me cry the first time I heard it. No, it’s not about conservation and saving the planet. It’s about raising children. “World Traveler” tells the tale (I assume it's his own) of a young man in a small town that longs to be a “world traveler.” He sings:

“Soon enough I had my way
I saw the world the Lord has made
Mostly from the interstate
But I had hardly seen a thing
Until I gave a golden ring
To the one who gave her heart to me

(And I became)
A world traveler
That's the day I hit the road
'Cause I walked the hills of the human soul
Of a tender girl
I'm a world traveler
She opened the gate and took my hand
And led me into the mystic land
Where her galaxies swirl
So many mysteries
I never will unravel
I want to travel the world”

It’s a terribly sweet tale of finding that real adventure lies in the mysteries of marriage and discovering one another. He goes on to say:

“Tonight I saw the children in their rooms
Little flowers all in bloom
Burning suns and silver moon
And somehow in that starry sky
The image of the Maker lies
Right here beneath my roof tonight

(So hold on tight, I'm a)
World traveler
Pack yours bags and dig down deep
Let's ride the storms and sail the seas
To the distant pole
I'm a world traveler
Into these uncharted lands
To blaze a trail in the vast expanse
Of the heart and soul
In the grace of the God of peace
Let's wade into the battle
Come on, come on with me
And get up in that saddle
There's a million mysteries
I never will unravel
Come on, let's travel the world”

It’s no surprise to learn that Mr. Peterson is a huge C.S. Lewis and Tolkien fan (to the point of going to Tolkien-themed retreats and being invited to speak at a C.S. Lewis seminar). He touts his CD The Far Country as “the highest concentration of nerdy C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien references, if you’re into that sort of thing.” 

As a dance teacher, it’s hard not to think about choreography when I hear his songs. I love to tell stories on stage. In fact, I’m using his song “Invisible God” for one of my classes’ recitals this year. As a writer, I have enjoyed listening to his music while I work on my novel. It perfectly puts me in the right frame of mind and inspires me to do what I love.

Beyond Mr. Peterson’s music is a terrific blog called The Rabbit Room where he and many other talented authors collaborate on a plethora of subjects that all seem to have a feel for being a fly on the wall at an “Oxford Inklings” meeting. (That’s the writers' group that Tolkien and Lewis and a few other guys used to be a part of. Yeah. Dream Team.) But peeking into the Rabbit Room is the next best thing and I’d recommend checking it out.

His writing doesn’t stop with music and blog posts. If your family is a Narnia or Lord of the Rings fan, you’ll want to check out The Wingfeather Saga, that Peterson has penned. It follows the Igiby family through the eyes of young Janner Igiby who is the Throne Warden (or protector) of his younger brother that will one day be King of Anniera. Filled with creatively creepy creatures such as the “Fangs of Dang” and “toothy cows,” you and your kiddos will have a rollicking good time following this family through times of peril and heroism. And how often can one honestly use the word “rollicking” to describe something? That’s not a word to be trifled with. Click here to go straight to the source and learn more. 

Just to clarify, I don’t know Mr. Peterson 
and he doesn’t know me. He hasn’t asked 
for props. A good friend (and fellow fan) 
introduced me to Andrew Peterson’s music 
and then shared his books and I have been
 forever grateful. 

I'm just paying it forward.


At the Intersection of Creation and Evolution: A Dream

The alliterating story below is based on a dream I had several years ago. Please contact me for permission to reproduce.

Darkness devours me.

I am enveloped in emptiness.

Are my eyes open or are they closed? I strain against this shroud of night and still see nothing.

What is this place?

An image illuminates in front of me. A large, leafy tree streaks past and vanishes.

It deserts me to the darkness again.

In a moment, more images appear. A rapid succession of snapshots and thoughts clamor before my eyes and mingle in my mind.

I see seedlings. Several supple shoots have emerged before me and then swiftly stream away.

“The first trees on earth were not seedlings”, my mind observes. “They were not created as small insignificant saplings.”

That thought is rapidly replaced with a vision of a man.

He’s maybe 30; he is muscular and needs to shave.

He fades away.

In his place I see an infant.

A tiny bundle of pink skin upon a soft blanket flickers briefly in my brain.

“Man was created with age,” is the next statement I hear. “Adam did not begin his life as a baby, he began as a grown man.”

The voice seems like my own.

The thoughts do not.

Reeling before me now is a blur of rivers, forests, mountains and even layers of the earth. It is like a movie rushing rapidly before my retina.

The soundtrack of this epic is proclaiming a peculiarly plain concept:

“The earth was created with age. Creation and evolution are not in total opposition. There is a reason that science finds the earth to be quite old: it was made that way.”

Thoughts continue to tumble through my mind; pictures parade before me. I listen in amazement to what seems to be puzzlingly profound and yet rather apparent all at once.

“Adam was created as an adult. Trees and plants were made fully grown.”

I suddenly feel quite certain that, if I were to chop down some of the trees that had been spoken into existence, I would find a range of rings running through their trunks.

“The earth was brought to life with age built into it… just like Adam. He did not begin life as an infant. The earth came into being with what it would need to sustain the life that was created. It was old when it was young. The world was
made with maturity; it was also produced with purpose.”

These thoughts are thrilling. Why had I not seen this before? It seems so simple. Obtusely obvious. Had others not observed this correlation? If they had, why wasn’t it being candidly conveyed?

In the span of thirty seconds I have been ravaged by a radical revelation. I feel the weight of its worth resting on me; it is tantamount to tangible.

I am neither a theologian nor am I a scientist. I don’t claim that the ethics of evolution are completely compatible with the Bible’s account of creation. But certainly Science can come concurrent to creation and affirm our faith with facts.

Of course, the Omnipotent Originator of the Universe is exceedingly elusive to what our mind could ever envision. Above what science could ever extensively elucidate.

Accordingly, creation is confounding too. Each diverse discovery deems it more marvelous to grasp. Many scientists have reluctantly relented to the theory of Intelligent Design.

That’s why, alongside those facts, we also need faith.

Lying inexplicably at the intersection of those two essential elements is an exceptional endowment: the intermittent insight of our dreams.