I think I’ve written before about Jupiter, one of my favorite pieces of classical music by Gustav Holst. But I would like to bring it up again, because there’s something about this music that I find so deeply healing. Madeleine L’Engle writes in her book Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art about the cosmos and the chaos. “Stories are able to help us to become more whole, to become Named. And Naming is one of the impulses behind all art; to give a name to the cosmos, we see despite all the chaos.” We can create cosmos out of chaos, she says.
In the beginning of Jupiter, we hear chaos. We hear the broken fragments of a melody, sped up and rearranged. If you’re listening for the first time, you might be tempted to skip over the first three minutes, to fast forward to the “good part”. You don’t know exactly when or how, but you have a the sense that something else is coming.
Then, everything becomes quiet and you hear the melody. This is what everything was building to all along, and you begin to understand the broken pieces. You might recognize now that the bits of chaos in the beginning were all parts of this melody in a less-recognizable form. Holst created cosmos out of chaos.
But then, just when you’re expecting the very final note of this great recognizable melody, the chaos comes back again. Even after you got to the place where you began to understand, the resolution is missing. It’s not until the very end that you hear the tonic chord and the final resolution, but even then, it’s much more chaotic and exciting than you might like.
Music can teach us so much about life—about melodies and resolutions, and the way beauty can be created out of dissonance and chaos. I always laugh when I hear about the way the early church used to ban certain dissonant chords and intervals from being used in church music because they believed the act of praising God should always be beautiful and full of pretty major chords and resolutions. I think sometimes the church still holds on to this idea—the idea that we have to hide the dissonance. However, when Jesus says “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden”, I always imagine him saying “Bring me your chaos. Bring me your imperfection, your broken pieces, your honesty.” We don’t have to cover up the parts of our lives that aren’t resolved.
I just hope that one day we can get to the other side of whatever trouble we are facing and say “I understand now.” We may not have reached the final resolution, but we can know that the chaos was part of the cosmos.