By Jim Hunter
As I journeyed through Advent this year I often felt like I had opened a puzzle box that was filled with wonderful pieces but they had nothing to do with one another. Yet somehow, after pondering darkness with Barbara Brown Taylor, enjoying the Lingle show on Thursday nights, rejoicing with Mary about God’s upheaval, and continuing to wrestle with my life’s haunting question: if a preacher retires to the forest, does he make a sound? I emerged into the new year with a new life motto: To do the concert even if no one is coming.
It came to me as I watched the YouTube video, II Andante (Rutter’s Gloria) that Andrea had provided in module two of the MWF course, “Advent Incarnate: Into the Light and Dark.” It was a concert piece that featured a huge orchestra and choir. Every member was dressed immaculately, the musicians in the strings section moved their arms as if they were dancing, and of course, the music was wondrous.
There were so many people on stage it occurred to me that they could possibly outnumber the audience. Then I wondered, what if they did? What if there were twice as many people on stage? What if there were only a handful of folks in the audience? What if no one came? Did they still make a sound? Of course they did. It was an offering.
And there it was: To do the concert even if no one is coming.
To do the concert: to sing the song, light the candle, write the book, love others, make an extravagant offering, smile at the guy in Walmart, speak truth to power, hug my wife...
Do the concert: learn my part, practice, buy the suit, get there on time, give it my best, offer it...like the lily no one ever sees, like the waterfall that cascades when no one is there, like the crow that shouts "look!" and no one hears, and yes, like the tree that gives up reaching for the sun and crashes to the earth, to do the concert—even if no one is coming.
A couple of life-times ago, I was a house painter and the fellow I worked with always painted the tops of the door frames, edges of the baseboard, behind the toilets, everywhere that lacked paint, even if no one would ever see it. His reasoning? “The angels will see it.”
More recently, one of my hiking buddies and I took our lunch break on a large stone that had been sitting right there, watching a billion years unfold. As we ate our p-nut butter sandwiches, we marveled at the tiny flowers on the wilderness floor, the massive hardwood trees all around, the crazy blue sky behind the leaves, and the noisy creek below us. We breathed mountain air and heard several birds calling out.
“Boy, God sure is wasteful with beauty,” my guy said. “I think you mean extravagant,” I replied. He nodded, “Yes, yes I do.”
To do the concert. To join in the concert. To remember I am a part of The Concert.