AN ATTEMPT to ANSWER an IMPORTANT QUESTION
|Man Contemplating Infinity by Caspar David Friedrich (1774-1840)
The other day a friend, –– a self-identified leftist with a probing, inquisitive nature that many find irritating, –– asked this profoundly important question in response to a recent posting of some of Bach’s organ music:
“Do you believe that in Bach we are reacting to the fullness of a mathematical as well as a musical completeness? Is that what calms us?
“Is it achievable in the material world?”
A not-so-simple “Yes and No” would have to be my answer. Here are further thoughts I hope may be illuminating:
Someday I hope we come to realize that because all things come from God, the only Creator ––- without whom we would have no life, no substance, no consciousness, not even as much significance as a grain of sand –– because of this all things are ONE.
What may appear to be unique and apart is merely one tiny facet of a magnificent WHOLE so enormous, so wonderfully brilliant and complex we have no power to grasp its full significance.
The aesthetics of Bach and all great Music, of Science, Engineering, Medicine, Technology, Art, Architecture, Literature, Poetry, Agriculture, Horticulture, Gastronomy, Conservatism, Liberalism –– EVERYTHING –– is part of the same ball of wax, and EACH FACET of it –– at its highest level –– is purely aesthetic –– spiritual, if you prefer.
There is a BEAUTY to all Creation that only a few great geniuses –– like J.S. Bach –– have been able to glimpse and capture, –– but only in part. Nevertheless, ALL of us are PART of "it" and ALL of us no matter how humble or reprehensible have a ROLE to play. We COUNT.
After all what is a single grain of sand? Much more than it appears, if we examine it in depth, and try to probe its mysteries with advanced" scientific instruments such as the electron microscope. Even then we may only begin to probe its infinite complexity –– galaxies upon galaxies of infinitely small particles each with ITS own identity and ITS role to play.
And then the more obvious knowledge that this tiny grain of sand is only one of infinite octillions of other grains. Put together they make –– a BEACH.
What if our solar system, as I suspect it may be, were nothing more than the equivalent of a SINGLE ATOM in the incredible vastness of the Cosmos –– of Infinity? –– of Eternity?
Mankind in all our Pride, Vanity and vast Conceit is little more than the fabled rooster, who foolishly credited himself with the power to make the sun rise each day, –– or The Butterfly that Stamped made famous by Kipling.
There is no such thing as “PROGRESS.” For us there is only the thrill, the joy, the unending mystery and perplexity of a continual, unending process of DISCOVERY.
Few may realize it, but ALL of us long for God –– for Life, Truth and Love. Most of us stumble and fall perpetually, or run around in circles all our lives, because we are proudly ignorant and misguided, but even so THAT is what we long for. Unfortunately, we also FEAR it, because such knowledge implies tremendous RESPONSIBILITY, and a big part of us wants to remain in childhood –– even INFANCY –– and so we invent theories and cling to notions that keep us at a great distance from what we desire most.
Life is a paradox. We’ll never understand it completely, because we are not meant to. What we ARE meant to do is learn to ACCEPT our subordinate role in relation to the Almighty sustaining Infinite.
Life is a GIFT we are meant to enjoy. It is a MYSTERY to be LIVED –– not a PROBLEM to be SOLVED –– but we cannot enjoy it, until we accept our true relationship to God, work to understand that His Son was born into this world to show us The Way to ever increasing knowledge of Our Father whose Kingdom is not of this world, but in the realm where all things meet and become reconciled in the aesthetic of infinite, pure, radiant, eternal LIGHT and unconquerable BEAUTY.