The story is told that composing new music was not an easy task for Joseph Haydn. He was known to spend days and weeks in intense prayer upon receiving a commission for a new symphony or piano concerto. His prayer was focused on his desire to be inspired, to receive a gift of the Spirit, to create out of the silence of his inner depths music to touch the soul, music to feed the spirit, music to express beauty. His incredible corpus of work is a testament to his openness to the inspiration he so desired in order to bring forth beauty in music.
As we officially open the 2014 Provincial Chapter with this Mass of the Holy Spirit, I would like to suggest that we, too, come before our God with the need for the gift of the Spirit, the need to be inspired. We are being commissioned to create something new. Like Haydn, I would like to suggest that we take a similar posture of humility and silence to allow the Spirit to bring forth the beauty that our Church and world need from us.
Our Constitutions use the language of inspiration to highlight the fact that Crosier religious life is very much a response to God’s initiative and call of the Spirit. “Our Order seeks its inspiration for this community in the Gospel, the Rule of Augustine, in the vital elements of our own tradition and in the values and needs of our contemporary church and society.” In his presentations, Glen highlighted the awareness that our efforts to grow in being competent in living a fully human life of being attentive, intelligent, reasonable, responsible, and loving are essentially a response to a call from God. The one whom Augustine named as Beauty ever ancient, ever new, is calling this ancient Order embodied in us to create something new, to keep the Gospel alive and proclaimed.
I have always loved the image we heard from Ephesians: we are God’s work of art. Imagine: an artisan God who is busy creating beauty in us, creating us in Christ Jesus for the good works to make up our way of life. As we come to the close of our assembly and open the provincial chapter of 2014, we are invited to enter the silence, to pause, to listen deeply. For all art, all music, all that is beautiful is born in silence.
The Sufi mystic, Hafiz, tells this story. Some painters were engaged in a passionate conversation about the value of art. It was an interesting discussion that he listened to almost an hour without speaking. Then a young woman turned to him and said, “Any comments, Hafiz?” And these thoughts came to mind that he spoke: The greatest and most lasting art, the impetus of it, I feel, always comes from a wanting to help, a wanting to free, and an enthusiasm to express discovery. The artist becomes aware of inner spheres and mingles with them, and then puts those experiences into what they most care about for the world to see and touch if the world wants.
Created in the image of an artisan God, we want to help, we want to free, we want to express discovery. I invite us into silence this weekend as we ponder the words we have heard in assembly to give expression to what we most care about through our work of chapter next week.