I was recently listening to Ji-Yoen Choi’s solo organ recording, where she plays the Reddel Organ at Valparaiso’s Chapel of the Resurrection. I have really enjoyed Jean Langlais over the years, and Choi’s rendition of the Fete for Organ is just so lyrical. At 16 seconds in, I closed my eyes, and was transported back in space and time. The small, brassy mixture she uses, which is so typical of Langlais, flooded my heart with so many memories.
Not only is this very similar to John Cook’s Fanfare in terms of the sound of the mixture, but so many Christmas pieces we sang in the chapel lent themselves to this type of registration.
As the years pass, I find myself longing to return to the Chapel of the Resurrection – it is my most favorite place on earth. It is where the scriptures were opened to me like never before. It is where in word and song, I learned the truth of God’s unstoppable grace – I am not held accountable for my sins – and that God has forgiven my sins only because of the work of Jesus Christ. What pure Gospel this is! Romans 7 and 8 came alive for me as part of the text for Bach’s motet, “Jesu Meine Freude.” Life changed for me because of that place and time.
The Advent-Christmas vespers was such a warm time amid a cold, wet, flat campus. Life happened indoors as it slowed down out of doors. The soft lighting, the bright sounds, the joyful praise we raised to our Christ, is so remarkable. It is a glimmer of things to come. It was a time of discovery, a purer time, where there was more simple knowledge-spiritual milk-to learn and digest. Now, I must grapple with the heavier stuff, the knowledge of self, the understanding of the bondage of the will, original sin’s grip on us, our lot that is thrown in with Adam, the human misery – the fact that I am surrounded by death.
Is it a wonder that naturally, I want to be there? Again and again.
There is where the light would stream, vaulting and barreling through the 5 storeys of glass. There is where I received the body and blood in the bread and wine, in the most dazzling setting. I could not but admit God’s unsearchable greatness; I could come with no merit of my own, to receive the great gift of Christ’s living presence, at a time when I knew practically nothing. I just enjoyed God and what he had done for me.
So the sights and sounds of that place fill my heart, and are readily called to the fore of my mind with small triggers. (How I thank God for the art and music that has been used to draw me to him!)
And such it is, that I am drawn to that place.
And not just that Physical place, but the Spiritual place that was uncluttered by years of trials and doubt.
It took me many years to realize that God creates new experiences and new ways to enjoy Him and his presence. You can never go back, but you can truly appreciate where you have come from, and take that with you on your journey. Our journey that leads heavenward will end in a place that is even better than my favorite place on earth. If what I had at VU is but a fraction, a mere dot on the head of a pin, of the joy and splendor of heaven, I can barely wait to get THERE. To that place. To a glimpse of that SPIRITUAL place, better, because I will have known all the sorrows of this life, while truly knowing an unending joy.
That is my home, my Furusato of the eschaton.
So, as the year draws to a close, and I enter into my 10th year since I graduated and left THAT place, I, very Janus like, look back and smile, but look forward and long for that day when our joy is made complete by Him.