Tuesday, March 12, 2013

In the Garden Where I Love to Go

In the garden where I love to go
I see the hollyhocks all planted in a row,
Peach and apple blossom, hyacinth and golden bell,
The Lily of the Valley, the greater celandine and daffodil.
Nothing can compare with God’s great beauty rare
In this wild profusion of His glory, a sight beyond compare.
Come walk with me a little, while the gentle breezes blow
And share with me the beauty of His garden here below.
                   -         Alfred Montrose, Spring, 2013

            “Mother,” I said, “nothing quite affects me like the beauty of the springtime flowers, and it seems to there is special beauty this year in the early blossoming of the trees, the redbud and magnolia and the lilac.

           “I know what you mean, said Mother, “which is precisely why I chose our Royal Albert 1920 Spring Meadow Mugs for our tea this afternoon.  Why on each mug is a wild profusion of primroses, roses, violets, harebells and forget-me-nots.”

            I held my mug aloft in appreciation, and gazed at it, “I do love the subtle cream colored background and the 9-karat gold trim, although I must say, that as carefully crafted as these are they can’t compare with God’s beauty rare.’

            “Oh, Alfred,” said Mother, “you are so poetic!”

            I looked at Mother wondering whether or not there was not just a subtle note of sarcasm in her voice.  Of late she seemed to be a little annoyed with my pursuit of the tenor solo parts in the Easter Messiah program.  It may not be just my rehearsing; after all I do keep my study door closed.  Mother seems to have been bothered over my background research in Holy Scripture. 

            Yesterday, she actually said, “Really, Alfred.  Really! The Bible, Alfred!  Why don’t you stick to the Wall Street Journal?!”

            “I retorted, “Some familiarity with Holy Scripture is the mark of educated and cultured men.  It is as valid as reading Shakespeare.”  Mother wasn’t impressed.

            “Now, between you and I, leaving Mother out it for the moment, (a dangerous but necessary thing to do), leaving Mother out of it, as I said, there are some very disturbing things in the text.  Why at the heart of Handel’s Messiah is that passage from Isaiah,

Surely he hath borne our griefs,
      and carried our sorrows:
yet we did esteem him stricken,
      smitten of God, and afflicted. 
But he was wounded for our transgressions,
      he was bruised for our iniquities:
the chastisement of our peace was upon him;
      and with his stripes we are healed.[i]

Why that passage is unexcelled from a literary perspective, but from a personal perspective it is thoroughly alarming.  Nevertheless I have this deep conviction that in order to sing my tenor solo parts I really ought to find a way to interiorize the text.  That my friend is a dangerous thing to do; perhaps even more dangerous than leaving Mother out of the equation.

            While I was ruminating on these things, Mother, as was to be expected, changed the subject saying, “Do you know Alfred that our son Jeremy and his Winifred are coming for Easter?”

            “Wonderful, Mother,” I said, “That will be quite exciting.”  But privately I said to myself, “From our conversation at Christmas I know they will have some appreciation for what I'm struggling with.”  As much as I love Mother, I have a feeling that this is something that I have to work out for myself.

The Collect “For Joy in God's Creation:
O heavenly Father, who hast filled the world with beauty: Open our eyes to behold thy gracious hand in all thy works; that, rejoicing in thy whole creation, we may learn to serve thee with gladness; for the sake of him through whom all things were made, thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”


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