Last night we ventured out as a small group of friends to an area nearby on a mountain where the Vanderbilt Observatory is tucked at the top of a clearing. Saturday nights once a month, the famous Bluebird Cafe offers live music with some of the originals and best singer/songwriters in this talented place called “Music City.”
The picnics laid out on portable tables looked like pages out of some dreamy vintage magazine from days long ago, dappled by (albeit some battery-operated) candlelight as the sun set on that dusky dream.
It was an uncharacteristically cool autumn night in middle Tennessee, and the astronomy team from Vande’s grad program informed us before the show that we could see Venus from the telescope between the last few pink-lined clouds disappearing from the day. Because the program is partly sponsored by the conservatory, we were able to hear a fun fact about the axis of Mars being unstable for lack of a large moon like that which anchors us on earth. It was amazing to think that our moon—with its gravitational wacky affects on us—was actually stabilizing in nature.
As the music started, our leading singer-songwriter “in the round” began by thanking us for being there. He mentioned the effects of the pandemic on the music industry over the last year and a half and then, silently stopped his gratitude for lack of words and in choked-up, silent sentiment made us all feel an astounding sense of gratitude.
As we listened for the next two hours to the artistry of these four musicians by candlelight and stars, I realized that I was experiencing something so profound and gratifying and I couldn’t put a name to it.
This morning in prayer with the Sunday gospel, Mark chapter 9, Jesus said “For whoever is not against us is for us.” I felt the gospel indicating the very message I was trying to identify from that groaning of last night’s experience.
I asked the Holy Spirit to help me give it a name. I realized what Jesus tells us is that very thing that under that stabilizing moon set to the pining cry of “Jelly Roll” Johnson’s harmonica, I saw the name of that eluding feeling. Unity.