Without Things

While studying at UC Santa Cruz, my roommate gave me the chicken pox.  It was harsh.  I was sick for about 3 weeks, I had a fever, and for 9 days straight I never left my room.  It's not easy to keep up with your college classes under such circumstances.  When I could get up and move around, I went to one of my classes, where I had a creative project due.  Working out mathematical solutions was one thing...that was relatively easy.  Logic is just logic, following one thing to another.  But coming up with a new, original, creative thought was something else entirely!  I sat there in the computer lab staring at my screen; nothing came into my head.  No thought, no inspiration — nothing.  Finally I gave up, feeling very depressed and miserable.

I made my way to the music building.  As I walked, I reflected on how much we take certain things for granted... things that are deeply integral to who we are, such as the ability to think and to reason.  How easily this was taken away, by something as simple as an illness!  I imagined what life might be like without those things, such as if one were afflicted with Alzheimer's.  This only served to deepen my sadness.  Finally I concluded that even if everything else were stripped away, the Lord would at least give me the grace to be able to pray.  And I would be satisfied with that.

I finally reached the rehearsal rooms.  Sitting down at the piano, I wrote this piece, tears falling freely as I played.  "Without Things" is about simplicity, and humility.  It's what's left when all the "things" we depend on are taken away.

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Love is as strong as death,
its ardor unyielding as the grave;
it burns like blazing fire,
like the very flame of God.
Many waters cannot quench love;
rivers cannot wash it away.
— Song of Solomon 8:6-7