Phial of Galadriel

‘In this phial,’ she said, ‘is caught the light of Eärendil’s star, set amid the waters of my fountain. It will shine still brighter when night is about you. May it be a light to you in dark places, when all other lights go out. Remember Galadriel and her Mirror!’

J.R.R. Tolkien, The Two Towers

On Saturday, I witnessed Walla Walla Valley Academy Orchestra, play music in a rehabilitation & nursing home. This home receives a two star rating on yelp, the residents do not live in the lap of luxury. Their ailments are many and diverse, and hope is swallowed up in the muddy beige walls of their building. The staff for the most part look drained of all but a modicum of joy. While their bodies are present, the bulk of their affections don’t seem to have survived the trudge from the car park to their work station. The residents stalk along on crutches, drag contraptions with tanks and tubes, or are pushed in wheelchairs from room to room. The drama played out is almost ghoulish, it seems that there is a delicate silken thread that holds the residents to life in the present, and the thread can be snapped at any moment.

When the orchestra begun there were about 15 residents and a few staff aides in the room. They listened, raptured as music poured from the assembly of stringed instruments. Some sat erect facing the music, others turned their back heads lolled to the side, and some closed their eyes in concentrated breathing whilst letting the music wash over them. When the orchestra begun their third and final piece, more residents were wheeled into the dinning room, drawn by the power of the sweet melodies. The nurses who would normally leave, stood enchanted in the door way and listened. Residents who had lost the power of speech groaned and mumbled guttural expressions of joy, others wept with joy, clasping their hands as if offering a prayer of thanks for the majesty of the music.

Through music, light pierced the gloom, and blossomed in hearts a spring of beauty. Those 30 minutes were salubrious for the residents and staff. Flesh and sinew grew on the spectres with each song, clothing them with dignity and reverence, sons and daughters in the Imago Dei. I was reminded that no matter how cavernous the darkness, light, love and beauty will ultimately triumph.

Transmuted Anger

She sat crossed arm, pouting and petulant. Her face furrowed, and her rosy lips thinned as she huffed and puffed her frustration. The

object of her desire had been denied her and she was livid. She scooted her little form 180 degrees so that her back was facing her antagonist. She had just turned four years old that day, and in all the wisdom of her 48 months she knew that she was mad, and that mum was the cause! Like most four-year old girls she quickly moved past her anger, and a few moments later she was on her mother’s lap finishing their craft activity together.

Even as adults we all go through days like that don’t we? Unlike Hannah we don’t go back to our source of heavenly comfort as quickly. Instead we fuel our life with anger. Untamed anger can of course carbon vesuvian proportions of energy, but it is temporary, and usually very destructive.

Mahatma Gandhi during his stout-hearted struggle against the British for Indian Independence made the following statement:

“I have learnt through bitter experience the one supreme lesson to conserve my anger, and as heat conserved is transmuted into energy, even so our anger controlled can be transmuted into a power that can move the world.” (Young India journal, September 1920.)

His statement espouses principles we would all do well to emulate. Lets shine brightly with transforming influence rather than burning up with destructive anger. Lets move from heat to light.

Matt 5:16 (ESV)

In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.