As we live our mortal existence, we sigh away with St. Paul. The good things we want to do, we do not do, and end up doing the very things we don’t want to do. It is true with how we treat others, how we do our jobs, how we love our families, how we discipline our children. It affects our stewardship. It affects how we look at the gifts we have been given. We selfishly and slavishly look after our own needs to the detriment of others.
It is because of our lack of goodness. It has been so since the first human beings disobeyed God in the garden so long ago. As we proceed on life’s way, we acutely feel these axiomatic negations of our character. Are we really good? Is who we are what we really desire to be? In most cases, we distract our selves from knowing the true self. It is just too painful to truly know and plumb the depths of our mortality.
And so much of life is living in this tension. Yet, tension is not such a bad thing, is it?
Tension looks for a resolution. To those of you music theorists, a V chord wants naturally to resolve to I. A leading tone MUST lead to I or it feels incomplete. A 2-1 suspension, wants to leave the 2 and become 1 in unision. The tritone wants to leave the 4th and come to the 5th. Music is, in many ways, ordered tensions with great resolutions. Each master cadence gives us the feeling of being whole, like eating so many beans.
Hilse’ s “Meditation” has a tremendous chain of 2-1 suspensions toward the end of the piece that lingers and makes itself unavoidable as the centerpiece of the moment. Yet, it peacefully resolves as the melodies underneath it remind you of what came before and the passing tones out of the suspension lead to I and hang out on the pedal point. This piece is a metaphor for my life. I hear echoes and reminders of what came before, good and bad, while living in a suspension that wishes to resolve to 1. It cannot resolve to 1 until the 3-in-1 takes me and moves me from incompletely mortal to completely resurrected.
But the beauty of the tension of a suspension is that is is both past and now, waiting for tomorrow, which it is also part of. Three notes sound at once and the middle dissonance is removed. The past and future are in harmony and all is well. The note that doesn’t belong is what makes the third so beautiful when it resolves.
Our dissonant mortality will be harmonized with our resurrected future. We live that reality now, but it is still in tension with the past, struggling with our original man inside of us who seeks to pull us down unto death. Yet, another kind of suspension: the second adam on the tree has made the once and future resolution possible. This is the most beautul tension of them all! Washed in water and hearing the words of life, the old man becomes dissonant, yet is made more beautiful when he is finally resolved and dissolved into the new.