Someone once challenged me that the English language cannot express everything — that it’s limited… like all languages are.
That’s why we won’t be speaking English in Heaven (sorry British-accent lovers!).
But think about the reason why we have to learn languages in the first place… it’s because we’re not endowed with linguistic abilities at birth, at least not like we’re endowed with —
Before I finish that thought, think about this: you’re listening to a song in a language you have no idea how to use. The song seeps into you, and you start sleeping with the song on, driving with it on, dancing with it, and after a day or so… you start singing it in the shower, then wherever. Yes — it’s stuck in your head. EVEN THOUGH you don’t know the language. And even if you did, maybe there’s that one part where you’re not sure what they’re singing, and you make up words of your own.
Has that ever happened?
Happens to me all the time, especially since I semi-speak Cantonese, Vietnamese, and Mandarin (keyword: semi-speak). There’s always that line I’m not sure about, and I just blah and sing on – sing on… even those Latin words at Mass, even if my voice is an ear-ache, the song must be sung!
That’s it then: MUSIC. We’re endowed with musical abilities like no other creative essence. I can’t cite the sources, but I’ve heard so many times about the ways music and song effect life. Babies who can hardly speak can tell when a note skips in a song they’ve never heard before. Most animals in some veterinarian care are soothed by song and music – and interestingly, the harp is the second most potent instrument to soothe animals. The first is our human voice.
Our human voice is a powerful force, especially when we use it in Gregorian Chant. Research has shown that the chant of the Church has a healing and energetic effect on our physique. Prolonged exposure to the rhythms and prayers (especially when you chant them yourself) have been shown to cause monks to be alert, healthy, and happy — even if they sleep only two hours a day, never eat meat, and work hard labor! Check out this page for more.
Music. Can’t see it, but it makes you see. A character in my first novel regains her sight partly from when she hears powerfully moving music. But you don’t have to be blind to see what music does for your eyes. It makes memories come back. The imagination tries to fit the tune with an event — a soundtrack. And what’s with soundtracks anyway? Watch a film in mute and how long will you stay awake for? Drive across the country without a CD or the radio and what’ll happen?
You can even feel music. The vibrations in the air wrap around you – tingles and tickles. Sometimes it beats on your heart and you wonder if it’s safe.
Then the music picks you up. Your fingers tap and snap, arms flail, shoulders hop, head whips, and your legs… and feet – they’re not just for transit after all. Suddenly you are a dancer — like when you were three and your mom or dad let you stand on their feet and held your hands up so you could waltz and tango.
But it’s just noise! ORGANIZED NOISE (keyword: organized)! And it’s an organization that babies are born able to recognize. So… if we’re born able to, then even a deaf baby can — even though they may never get the chance. But they can. That is key… that they can. Because organization means something caused it [noise] to be organized – something intelligent and creative… an ORGANIZER. Even a thunderstorm sings a song, but its song is less composed than a bird’s, and its is less composed than ours, and ours is less composed than…
And Music is what we speak in Heaven. Finally, we get our own soundtracks when we share our dramatic life story with others. We get to dozy-doe with billions of buddies, sing a musical with friends we never thought we’d see again, karaoke with the original artists themselves, and be as expressive as God made music to be. Why? Because everything about Heaven makes us more human than we are now. We are more ourselves then than we can ever be now.
Hope to see you there one day…
[Inspired by Dr. Peter Kreeft’s quote]
[FYI: ever wonder who set up the modern form of written music as we know it today? (It’s Guido D’Arezzo, a Benedictine monk)
[Psst, this is an edited re-post of a piece I wrote in Dec. 2009.]