Have you ever gone on a God Hunt? A God Hunt begins when you teach yourself to look for God’s hand at work in the every day occurrences of your life. Here’s one of my personal God Hunt Sightings:
Sometimes there are moments when we know we are in a place where history is being made. We say to ourselves, with a kind of wonder, Whenever anyone refers to this event, we will be able to say, “We were there.”
David and I felt this way last week when we attended a concert at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO for Chicagoans). This orchestra is recognized as world-class, and if we have enough money (for about a decade we had to drop our season tickets), David, who loves symphonic music, will buy a series of four or five tickets. That puts us on the CSO e-mail list (and the phone list for donation solicitations). When the concerts don’t look as though they will quite fill, David receives an e-mail notice that seats are available for reduced prices.
The concert last week was chosen by my husband because (1) Riccardo Muti, the CSO’s Music Director, was conducting, and we love his work, and (2) one of the pieces being performed is a favorite of David’s: Symphony in D Minor by composer César Franck. The two pieces presented before the intermission were unknown to us: Pacific 231 by Arthur Honegger, and then a 22-minute piece titled Alternative Energy by Mason Bates, whom the program explained was one of two composers-in-residence for the CSO.
If we leave our home in West Chicago at 6:30 p.m. and drive into the city, we miss the rush hour and can be parking our car in the underground Grant Parking Garage some 60 minutes later. A stop to pre-pay our parking ticket, then up the stairs to emerge right at the front doors of the concert hall, generally gives us a good 45 minutes to get ourselves settled in our seats in time to carefully read the notes for the evening’s concert.
I imagined what my husband was thinking when he read this description about Bates’ modern composition (David is not always taken with contemporary symphonic efforts): “Alternative Energy is an ‘energy symphony’ spanning four movements and hundreds of years. Beginning in a rustic Midwestern junkyard in the late nineteenth century, the piece travels through ever greater and more powerful forces of energy—a present day-particle collider, a futuristic Chinese nuclear plant—until it reaches a future Icelandic rain forest, where humanity’s last inhabitants seek a return to a simpler way of life.”
Oh dear, another pretentious attempt to bring some “new” interpretation to classical formulas. The biography mentioned that Bates studied in the Ph.D. program at Berkeley’s Center for New Music and Audio Technologies. This evening was the premiere for this symphonic effort and was written expressly for the CSO. A photo showed a young man (the composer) at Fermilab in May 2011 recording the particle collider, which techno-sound would be included in the second movement with the composer himself running the computer in order to integrate the technology with the orchestra. We noted when the surface of the regular music-stand was replaced with one at least three times its size. How soon would it be until we could get to the Franck in the last half of the evening?
To our amazement, and as emphasized by the rousing “bravos!” of a standing ovation, we seemed to be present at the induction of a modern master’s work if not an actual masterpiece. The atonal, discordant composition we were dreading never materialized. Instead we listened, astounded, as this young composer seamlessly synchronized his modern “junkyard/particle collider/nuclear meltdown/folk fiddler” synthesis in the body of classic symphonic dispositions. We sat at the edge of our seats for 22 minutes and actually said to one another, “I can’t believe we’re here.”
(Well that is one of the reasons we love Muti—his ear for what is possible is exquisite. And after all, the audience of 1886 roundly disapproved of Franck’s D Minor work, falling flat at the premiere—which Muti has devotedly brought back to life during his own conductorial career.)
I wonder how often the God of the Universe orchestrates a moment so pure, so magical, so majestic and takes years—even centuries—to bring the movements all together—stars spangling the heavens in rotations of constellations, weather systems blowing across the continents dropping exquisite ice coatings on the trees or sun-splattered shadows over the gardens, dolphins gladly frolicking in the oceans, an evening conversation with friends so connective that the soul is happy, and we humans say to each other, “Oh, wasn’t that nice?” (NICE!), and we walk away and forget it.
Hey folks! There are alternate energies going on all over the place—divine ones. We need to stop and jump to our feet. We need to shout Bravo! over and over. We need to clap our hands, bang on the chair in front of us, stamp on the ground. We need to realize, witnesses to a masterpiece.
We need to remember all the rest of our lives and to say to one another and ourselves, with gratitude singing in the deepest part of our being, We were there.
I spy God!
Award-winning author Karen Mains has long had an interest in spiritual formation and the obedient Christian walk. She has written about the God Hunt in her book by the same name, The God Hunt: The Delightful Chase and the Wonder of Being Found. A hardback copy can be ordered from Mainstay Ministries for $10.00 plus $4.95 shipping and handling. Contact Karen at firstname.lastname@example.org and she will be happy to autograph a copy for you.
Karen continues to write content for her Christian blog, “Thoughts-by-Karen-Mains.” In so doing, she desires to touch the lives of Christian women and men and help them find ways to walk closer with the Lord Jesus Christ. In addition, through silent retreats, spiritual teaching, women’s retreats, Christian vacation opportunities, and other ministry activities, Karen helps each Christian woman and man receive vital spiritual food.
Through her Hungry Souls ministry, Karen serves as a spiritual coach to many Christian women and men, and teaches a mentor-writing class. And, through the Global Bag Project, she is working to develop a network of African women who sew exquisite cloth reusable shopping bags, Africa bags. This micro-finance women opportunity helps provide a much-needed sustainable income for struggling African families. For more information on this critically important project, please click here.
For decades, Karen and her husband, David, have served God through religious communications—radio, television, and print publication. They are the co-authors of the Kingdom Tales Trilogy: Tales of the Kingdom, Tales of the Resistance, and Tales of the Restoration. To find many valuable resources for pastors and congregations at the Mainstay Ministries main website, please click here.
Likewise, pastors will find special resources to help them prepare effective, life-transforming Sunday sermons by visiting David Mains’ website by clicking here.