Sometimes I’m strongly attracted to a selection of music that I'd never heard before, whether on the radio, or a piece on a CD set of music that I wanted to discover. The other day, I turned on the Sirius XM classical station to a symphonic movement that was so pretty. It reminded me of landscapes along the highways of my native Fayette County, Illinois. That spontaneous linkage to childhood memory will endear a piece to me forever, and I can’t explain why or what kind of piece will do that.
When I looked upon the piece on the radio station’s website, it turned out to be the third symphony by Christian Sinding, a Norwegian composer (1856-1941) with whom I was unfamiliar (although when I did hear his most famous work, Frühlingsrauschen, I recognized it from somewhere.) The expressive second movement in particular made me think of familiar countryside. I wish I knew enough musicology that I could understand what it is about a piece that will involve in me strong feelings of rural peace.
But beautiful things can and do remind us of other beautiful things. It’s pleasant as one goes through the day that you can “catch” a sense of beauty as it happens by. The lectionary gospel lessons have been on Jesus’ parables lately, and I like to think of some of the parables and teachings in this way. Look, there’s something beautiful: a city in plain view atop a hill... a person in a pretty field, tossing seeds with the hope that they’ll take root... a vineyard, where people are working.... a fig tree... a pearl... a son coming home.... Many things moved Jesus and reminded him of another beautiful thing: God’s kingdom.