An excerpt from Chapter titled “Music on my summit” from Leona Choy's current book-in-progress, “STILL MORE—FLOURISHING ON MY SUMMIT”
I sat in the balcony of Obecni Dum (Municipal House) in Smetana Concert Hall in Prague in the Czech Republic on one of my visits to the homeland of my ancestors. I savored the unique opportunity for a musical adventure. The overlook was an ideal vantage point to observe the actions and interactions of the conductor and performers. I thought of the spiritual implications.
The occasion was a “Best of Mozart and Strauss” concert combined with the Praha Ballet and singers of international fame. The members of the Prague Symphony orchestra and the ballet dancers performed in colorful original costumes and wigs of the eighteenth century, the baroque tradition of Mozart’s glamorous time during his long sojourn in Prague. I felt transported backward in time. After the intermission, the conductor, orchestra members, soloists and ballet performers returned with a change of attire—contemporary black tie and formal wear.
I watched the performance intently. Each instrumentalist had to qualify through much practice and discipline for the honor of being part of the famous symphony. From among those who tried out the conductor chose whom he wanted irrespective of their youth or age. Each received his or her musical score and practiced alone for long hours before coming together for rehearsal. Before playing, everyone had to synchronize his instrument to the same note so as to play in tune. From that time on, each individual had to subordinate his part for the good of the whole orchestra. A symphony must have perfect harmony.
Because the conductor knows every part himself and has perfect pitch, he can identify each player’s sound although the entire group is playing. He points to one and then another to come in or become prominent just at the right time. The conductor signals for crescendo or pianissimo. He points to several to play their parts together as an ensemble. Sometimes he signals for one instrument to play a solo part. He controls the tempo.
During an intermission he may correct one or another instrumentalist who may not have been following the score perfectly or who is out of tune. The conductor expresses his wishes with a baton, also with his hand, his body language, and facial expressions. Each instrumentalist must focus intently on the conductor while keeping a trained eye on the music score in front of him.
In a life analogy, God, as the Conductor, not only knows the whole music score, but He wrote it for every instrument, vocal part, and ballet dancer (every one of His children through the ages who has been redeemed by the blood of His Son). God is intimately and meticulously orchestrating history from the first raising of His baton before Genesis and creation, even “before the foundation of the world” to the last note of the Finale in the panorama of Revelation.
I am one of His chosen performers in this generation, this segment of history, as is each created human child of God. My chronos time on earth is rehearsal time, an imperfect, learning, practice time when I might make mistakes or play out of tune with God’s Score. If I take my eyes off the Conductor, I am apt to lose the correct tempo or come in at the wrong time. If I am attentive, I can correct my life course under His guidance and play in harmony with His will.
Conductor God lets me know when He wants me to become prominent, to crescendo, or when I should subdue my part and play pianissimo, or play as part of an ensemble, or a solo part. I am part of His plan as He controls the tempo of history as it is picks up toward the culmination of time. I must not lose sight of the fact that I am not constantly in the spotlight as a soloist, but one part of His Body, the Church, as it gets tuned up in preparation for the Grand Finale.
I watched as the ballet dancers performed their actions in synch with the precise tempo of the orchestra. It was one unified whole, smooth and cadenced, all personal agendas aside. Each dancer too kept his eyes on the conductor. When dancers or soloists completed their parts, they bowed and acknowledged the conductor. He in turn acknowledged them, and turned to acknowledge the entire orchestra whose members had followed his wishes.
As an individual believer, part of the Body of Christ, I don't dance to my own tempo; as a soloist I don’t improvise my own melodic line. I must keep my eyes focused on the Conductor and “in all my ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct my paths.” My advanced age is no excuse for forgetting where I am in the score or failing to turn the page after I have played my part. In my ninth decade, I have had ample time for rehearsal. The Conductor is counting on me and has my eye so He can direct me.
I am motivated by my audience, by “so great a cloud of witnesses” in heaven and on earth, who applaud my humble efforts to stay in harmony with His perfect Score. What an honor to perform under the Great Conductor's direction!
Will the last score of the song of my earthly life
be in a major key like a majestic symphony?
I'd like that, Lord—to crescendo fortissimo
with a sustained final note
followed by thunderous applause
maybe an encore or two and a standing ovation
to climax my performance with glorious elation!
Or have you chosen for me a simple closing melody
in a minor key, not sad or melancholy
but plaintive and gentle, generous with rests
and then closing pianissimo.
I cannot choose my score. But I know
You didn't plan an unfinished symphony.
You perform what You compose.
You had in mind both lyrics and chords
selected in advance for my personal musical score.
Magnificent Maestro! You have the floor.
What's more—I don't perform alone.
The orchestra of life has many players
not only me, whose melodies You blend in
to achieve Your perfect harmony.
But the finale is assured:
The ovation is for YOU, Lord—not me!
The "Hallelujah Chorus" echoes
throughout all Eternity.
So I'll watch Your eye, I'll heed Your hand
I'll play or be silent at Your command
and be content with the musical score
You've prepared just for me
from ages before.