A New Man (Passage)

←Brown Street (Passage)

(The following is an excerpt from Heroes in the Dark in which the American is having a conversation with the evangelist)

“Yes, brother. There is a melody that flows through the universe. It’s God’s song. He’s been singing it since the sacred beginning. Like Reveille on a still morning, the universe exploded outward from an infinitesimal point at His command. The melody changes with the generations. Here, forte for Mount Vesuvius, fortissimo for the supernovae. Over there, quiet, piano, for the mountain lake. This song weaves through all existence. It guides the subatomic forces and, perhaps most importantly for us, it guides the conscience. I used to play out of tune. See, nobody taught me, not in school, not at home. I’d erratically push and pull on my mouthpiece and change my embouchure without any real idea of what I was doing. Every once in a while I matched the band perfectly, and I felt like I was a part of something great. This happened rarely and by chance. In those moments everything seemed right.”

“Most of the time, though, I’d follow the people next to me. After enough trial and error, I learned to mimic them. I developed my own theories of music and my own tastes and feelings. The people in my section didn’t like to play with the rest of the orchestra. They’d play Sousa while the orchestra was playing Tchaikovsky. Sometimes, one of them would stop playing entirely. Others would quit the band altogether and walk away. Occasionally, one bold man from my section would convince us to turn our chairs away from the Conductor and to follow his hands instead. That is how I lived my life. I joined with all these different people, each with their own ideas of what they should be playing at any given moment. I tried my best to keep up with the latest trend.”

“Could the Conductor have kicked us out of the orchestra? Sure he could’ve! But what good is an orchestra with twenty violins? Each instrument is unique and important. Why not place a boombox on the stage and hit the play button? Because you would lose the profundity that derives from scores of diverse individuals coming together of their own free will and creating music. He gives us a million opportunities to follow His lead. Someday, He will remove the obstinate, and the harmony will be perfect, but that day has not yet come.”

The American looked into the sky for a moment, and then he returned his eyes to the evangelist.

“Could I hear the dissonance, you may ask? Absolutely. I grew to hate the cacophony even though it was all I knew. One day, I couldn’t take it any longer. I placed my instrument on the ground, stood up, and walked down the center row of the auditorium to the back door. As you know, that door is locked on the outside. None who leave ever return. I turned the knob and held open the door. I could see only black void. I looked back toward the stage one last time. From my new position, the grand orchestra vastly overpowered my raucous former companions. My whole life, those people were everything to me, but in this moment, there by the back door, I couldn’t even hear them. I could only hear God’s song. I heard the perfection, hermano. I heard it! By God, I heard it! In that moment, all my questions were answered. My anxieties were quelled, and my heart was put at ease. It wasn’t the peace of mind that sent me sprinting back down that auditorium toward the stage, it was the idea that I could be a part of that beautiful song, that I could contribute. That’s what pulled me back.”

“So I sprinted to the stage. The Conductor, Jesus Christ Himself, lifted me up by the hand. He handed me the Book. This red and black book had always been available, free of charge, to anyone who wanted to read it. Most of my friends ignored the Book. Some of them even stamped on it with their boots or ripped it up in the name of art. I read it for the first time. His Word taught me about notes and pitches and frequencies. I began to understand how the music worked. I understood why certain notes are pleasing to the ear, and, most importantly, how to properly tune myself. Lifting my instrument from the ground, I moved to a new section and surrounded myself with true musicians. I found community. I gained knowledge. My righteous emotions substantiate my toils. From now through eternity, I’ll make music with my Creator who loves me. The song is perfect and unceasingly beautiful. My part is small, yes, but it is mine to play. And play I shall.”

“You are wise para … eh, for a young man,” said the evangelist. “You see past evil, past corruption. You see our home in heaven. I meet you there.”

“Yes, hermano,” said the American. “I’ll meet you there, but until then, God put a lot of good in this world. I see it everywhere, now. My eyes have been opened. Look there! You see that silent lightning on the horizon? Did you hear that old woman singing to herself over that delicious-smelling soup a moment ago? The more we learn, the more it becomes obvious. I remember that moment when I first derived the speed of light from Maxwell’s equations. I felt the harmony of the universe, then. Look at the shimmering nebulae that only a telescope can see or the amoeba beneath the microscope. Yes, it’s everywhere—from large to small. Even in the midst of the ultimate tempest, I would still enjoy this wondrous life God has gifted me. I’m anchored on the unquenchable hope of eternal beauty. All this will pass away, but souls are eternal. You, me, we’ll last forever. To the souls of men and women, I have devoted my life. I will tell them about Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit will transform their lives like He did with me. He showed me the way, and now I truly live.”