Having bid my Favourite Wife goodnight after an evening spent together on the lounge watching Grand Designs and updates from the Tour de France, I am the last one left in the land of not-nod. I have always found something satisfying in being awake when the rest of the family (in the distant past as many as 8, plus a school friend or two) are tucked up snoring. The feeling is one of protection, provision, guardianship even, and I find it hugely appealing. If this tranquillity includes a log fire, so much the better!
Tonight is entirely such a night. The fire is now a thick, bright bed of red hot coals, and the day-soon-to-be-done was a productive and happy one that included three key ingredients: a project in the shed, a home cooked lunch eaten outside in the sun, and some grand-parenting! Stillness has now enfolded and blanketed the cacophony of family life, and in the stillness I can feel the low thrum of a chord of joy somewhere deep within. A cello string bowed softly, ρρρ, or better:
a consort of recorders gently sounding one very long chord.
The bass note in the Chord of Joy is Contentment. A sonorous, calm note, humming away. So much can rest on a foundation of contentment. Easily overlooked I think, and unfashionable in the age of high achievement. Sometimes the word is wrongly linked with resignation, as though claiming to be content is a concession to a higher, but unreached ambition. I think contentment is perfect in its balance, neither too little, nor too much.
The tenor voice for tonight’s personal, inner chord is Satisfaction. It is the peaceful repose that follows application. Have you ever worked so hard that a hard concrete slab feels like a luxurious lounge chair? Satisfaction is the blessed taste of accomplishment, the reward of diligence. Oddly enough this word, too, is often viewed askance in our fast and shiny world. When gratification is instant, and brilliance is the norm, mere satisfaction can sound insipid. But I love the proportion and honesty of simple satisfaction.
Now, we jump to the top with the descant note. The soprano soloist. This is Anticipation, which I think I enjoy even more than contentment. I like knowing I have a block of chocolate in the cupboard almost more than actually eating it. I can recall as a child that I sometimes had one of last year’s Easter eggs still waiting to be consumed when the next Easter rolled around (absolutely true, but let’s not think too long about the condition of that particular egg). Anticipation excites the soul! Anticipation is the whistle of possibility, a brief glimpse of a brand new project, a flash of inspiration that might, just might, become another achievement, another adventure. Possibilities I long for that shine like stars!
And finally back down to the alto; a pure, articulate sound of Hope. Calm hope; calming hope; a hope filled smile. Not as strident as anticipation; hope is also less specific, more trusting, quieter; but surer with it. My hope is the ultimate presence of a God of goodness in the world, to be encountered again, somehow, and yet again. I find hope in quietness more than in business; and when I find quiet hope it gradually overcomes the fears which are common property for all who draw breath. Hope gazes with a relaxed eye to the very horizon, and sees the land of the living.
Thank you God above,
for a night like tonight.
Thank you, thank you!
Drop me a line…