This post is for myself as much as it is for you. Specifically, it is for those who keep going hurrier but just get behinder.
I once had the blessing of playing in Carnegie Hall. That night changed my life. I mark it as the red letter day of my spiritual life when I felt a witness, stronger than I ever had before, that God knows and loves me personally. But, I walked away with a growing amount of lessons stemming from that experience. One, is about resonance.
At its simplest (most beautiful), “resonance” is the prolongation of a sound created by a surrounding space. It is an “aggregate of echoes,” said one musicologist. The musicians delight is a masterful hall with deep resonance. The resonance there in Carnegie Hall was unlike anything I’d ever experienced. A somewhat bold sound could reverberate for eleven, maybe fifteen seconds.
A couple months ago, I hit one of those times when life seemed way too full and I felt like I had hit my wall — the stress had stressed me out. The hurrier I went, the behinder I got. Somehow my thoughts landed on Carnegie Hall. I thought about that resonance. (I think I was dreaming of better days). I’ve always connected resonance and vibration — especially that special kind that comes from music — with the Spirit of God. (How many times have we used the phrase, “As the Spirit speaks, your spirit will resonate with the its presence and feel as though you’re hearing something you’ve heard before”?) I knew my stress had pushed out the Spirit and I wanted to resonate again.
“How does Carnegie Hall create resonance?” I wondered.
Plutarch said in Morals: “Let us see (I say) what resonance and melodie bare wood may yeeld.” It’s amazing to think that Carnegie Hall is just an elaborate collection of bare wood dressed in fabrics and metals. And yet, more than any of these, the Hall is filled with space. Empty space is what makes up most every hall — most every place of resonance. It’s the empty space that allows the place to resonate and echo. Fill it with straw and you can’t hear a tuba.
Sometimes, I fill my life so full of straw that I can’t hear a tuba. Or, the trumpet of the Lord’s angels. Or even the woodwind whisper of the Spirit of God. So often, I pack my life so entirely full that there is no room left for resonance between the walls of bare wood.
Not that we should be empty. There’s a balance of course. Carnegie Hall has found it such that even if the wood and chairs were to be coupled by 5,000 people, there would still be enormous space left for resonance. In fact, the very purpose of the resonance, in this place, is for it to fill a full hall.
The very purpose of the Spirit is to resonate in our full hearts, and to vibrate within our lives full of “good causes” (D&C 58:27) — to sound and re-sound within our minds full of a testimony of the Gospel and to spill out of our mouths to fill the souls of eager listeners, perhaps in full meeting place,s or full family rooms, or in times full of troubles. The Spirit seeks a full house, both within and among us.
But, we must be still if we are to invite the resonance. “Be still and know that I am God,” said the Lord through the Psalmist (Ps. 46:10). It may have been a throw back to the verse, “Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah [or, a “musical rest”].” (Ps. 4:4). And then, as if to speak to the most righteous of hurriers, He spoke of this same stillness as a form of faith when He reassured, “Therefore, let your hearts be comforted concerning Zion; for all flesh is in mine hands; be still and know that I am God.” (D&C 101:16).
If we are to invite resonance, we must fill our lives with the right things — with holy things. If our bare wood is to truly “yeeld” resonance, we must master the art of slowing down in times of turbulence, and of setting our priorities. We must take time to be silent, take time in the scriptures, take time away from the world, and cherish time in sacred places. We must strip ourselves of the gaudy ornaments, the unnecessary decorations, the good but unwise uses and be instead, content to be bare wood at times. And perhaps most importantly, we must bear in mind that of itself, the Hall cannot create resonance. It can only invite in those who can fill her space with the soundest of things. There, in the interplay of wood and wind — of soul and Spirit — is found our glorious resonance.