The Song of God, Part 1

Recently, a fragment of an Early Bronze Age pithos (a large clay storage jar) was discovered in Israel. The fragment is at least 5,000 years old and depicts a musical performance. The scene was made by rolling a cylindrical seal in the clay. When I was a kid, I had a Play-Doh set that came with a little roller wheel. I’d smush the Play-Doh out flat then roll the wheel across it to make an imprint. Little did I know I was replicating one of our most ancient technologies.
 As ancient as the rolling seal is, music is even older. Archaeologists have found evidence of musical instruments dating back 60,000 years. It is likely that humans began mimicking the sounds of nature hundreds of thousands of years ago, although whether or not that can be considered music is a matter of debate. For many historians and psychologists, music requires intentionality. Simply mimicking a sound is not music, although one could argue it is intentional.

What I find theologically interesting about this discussion is the idea that sound plays a very important part in creation. Biblically, God breathes life into humans (Genesis 2.7) and is “the Word” preexistent (John 1.1). These are both very musical ideas!

Modern string theorists posit that all matter is created from a single fundamental harmonic vibration—a sound. Could it be that God is literally singing the universe into being? Are we all part of a beautiful symphony of love with God our composer and  conductor? If so, then we can think about the state of our personal being, and our planet, as one of harmony and discord (dischord?). When we are living a life fully attuned to God’s song of creation, we live with and create harmony in the world. We welcome everyone into our lives and do what we can to serve others. When we are disconnected from God, we’re out of tune. This causes us to view the world askew, and to react to the situations we see with fear. Perhaps we even create uncomfortable situations—for ourselves and others, because we are out of tune.
Our ancient spiritual ancestors connected to God through music. The book of Psalms is an ancient book of songs to and about God. They intrinsically understood the power of musical connection. We are just starting to understand how powerful musical frequencies are. We have discovered very low frequencies that can make objects fall apart, and we have discovered ultrasonic frequencies that create refrigeration. This science of thermoacoustics is also very ancient. Glass blowers create heat-generated sound when blowing glass through a tube, for example. But now we can go the other way around—we can create heat and cold from a sound wave itself.

Sound is a creative force—perhaps the creative force, God’s very breath singing everything into existence, and constantly retuning us so that the song of songs is constantly being refined and reformed into harmonious union with God. We are part of that cosmic overture. We, too, are constantly being retuned and reformed into beings that live more harmoniously with our planet, each other, and God.

Meditation: I’m playing a little off-key today. Retune me today and all days.

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