We do not lack knowledge. We have the knowledge of both Good and Evil. We have explored the farthest reaches of the knowledge of evil. Can any more gruesome or horrifying act be invented than those gruesome and horrifying acts we already commit? Can war become any more depraved than it already is? Can neglect of the suffering world become any more prevalent? Can complacency become any more embedded in the lifestyle of the privileged? I don’t see how.
We have even experienced the farthest reaches of good. Is there anything better than the birth of a child? Is there anything more restorative than God’s forgiveness? Is there anything more hope-inducing than when enemies are reconciled? Is there any greater proof of the reality of the spirit than when the globe mourns the tragedies of tsunami or tornado, when strangers give their lives for others? Is than anything more beautiful than the Earth as God created it? God looked at what God created and pronounced it very good.
Trudging through Lent, one failure at a time, has left me in surprising need of restoration. I feel a lot like the 11 in the Upper Room (or even the 120): so spent from the trials of Holy Week that I haven’t the energy to really grasp the power of the resurrection, much less celebrate. I see the Risen Lord, I hear his teachings, but I am tired.
Then I came across Psalm 104, as it is presented above. A simple Psalm of praise…especially of the might and beauty of creation. Perhaps you noticed the gravity with which this Psalm is presented. Rachmaninov‘s Vespers was written in 1915, two years before the Soviet revolution. I wonder if Rachmaninov saw what was happening in Russia. A psalm of praise written in such mournful tones suggests an understanding of life’s grim potential as well as a resolve to not let temporal matters sway one from eternal commitments. Struck by the beauty of the composition, I dug a little bit to find out more. Alexander Sveshnikov recorded the Vespers in 1965. Legend has it that the Communist leaders interrupted the recording denouncing the piece. The piece above was recorded in 1986 by the USSR Ministry of Culture Concert Choir. That people braved death to sing praises to God shakes me.