Saturday, January 30, 2010

Full Out Symphony

Full-Out Symphony

There are times

A simple melody will do

A single line

Can bring me face to face with You

I don’t need more

To make my spirit rise

In little things

Your love takes me by surprise

But then there are days

When it seems Your glory fades

No melody can stir

This heart in stone encased

And I need more

Than a whisper of song

To reach through dark

And bring the light of dawn

So here I am

In tears and on my knees

I’m begging you

To play a full-out symphony

Sound the horns

Before a heart like Jericho

Tear down the walls

With the sweeping of Your bow

Beat the drums

‘Til this heart beats in time

Maestro, play

And Father, hold me tight

Stephanie M. Frakes

(December 25, 2009)

Friday, January 29, 2010

Two-Part Invention

A two-part invention is a short contrapuntal composition in which two independent melodies are woven together to create one piece of music. They push both the pianist’s skill and ear. My piano teacher says they are like fiber. Everyone needs them, but nobody wants them. When I started playing my first invention, that’s exactly how I felt, but in the end I came to love the intricate texture of these little pieces and actually requested to play more, much to the amusement of my teacher. I began to see how the two “independent” parts intertwined like the threads of a tapestry, interlocking so neatly, so perfectly they could no longer be separated for danger of destroying the art. As I pondered this newly discovered beauty, I quickly came to the conclusion that my life is a two-part invention. I live each day in counterpoint with my beautiful Savior. It is a complex relationship, and we are certainly both independent, but as we walk together our hearts are so deeply intertwined that we become one. We become one beautiful song. We cannot be separated, for I am nothing without Him, and the art would be lost. Together though, the music is incomparably stirring. It’s a glorious picture, and I can’t help falling in love, which is fine with me. One should never shrink away from falling in love. Never. Even with two-part inventions.

In Counterpoint

As my hands glide

Across the black and white

I can see a picture

Of the way I’d like to live my life

As melodies


In an intricate kind

Of beauty

I feel my soul cry

For Your heart

To come and meet with mine

In counterpoint

A composition so divine

And sacred

And I realize

That I just might

Fall madly in love

With the Composer

And that’s perfectly alright

For this is Life

In counterpoint

Stephanie M. Frakes

(January 29, 2009)

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Singing from the Empty Place

I’m thinking about singing. No surprise there… I’m always thinking about singing. There is, though, one particular thought that keeps running through my mind. Empty places. I doubt the connection makes any sense to anyone, so I’ll explain. Sometime during my first semester of “college-level voice lessons” (insert voice tinged with sarcastic superiority here) my teacher told me that “we sing from our wounds.” Sounds really fun, right? I suppose it adds a certain depth to a singer’s art. Our experiences, particularly our painful ones, give substance to our songs. It’s what draws an audience in. You know, that moment when a singer sends chills down your spine. All that said, for the better part of a semester, I have been a rather frustrated voice student. You see, every time I made a really great sound (or even a half-way decent one) I was either on the verge of tears or would break down completely. This was torturous for me because I hate tears. I am just not a fan of crying. I don’t know why. Perhaps I feel like tears are manifestations of the weakness I try to hide (a weakness that comes from nothing else but the fact that I am human, something that I am pretty sure I have in common with about six billion other people). Perhaps I just think I look terribly unattractive when I cry (though I don’t know anyone who thinks they do look attractive when they cry…). In this case though, I think the real reason is that I couldn’t find the reason, and that drove me crazy. I mean, sure I understood about singing from the wounds and the pain that would result, but what wounds was I singing from? It just made no sense to me. So I decided to spend a little time searching.

But, surprisingly, I didn’t find wounds. I found, quite simply, empty places within my soul. Oh yes, it does sound deep and profound, doesn’t it? It’s not really. We all have them. Sort of like we all have sinuses. They’re just there. What are these empty places? Many would call them unfulfilled longings. I believe they are what Ecclesiastes would call “eternity on the hearts of men.” That yearning that God placed in us. That unavoidable feeling that we were made for something greater, for something lasting, not like the fleeting moments of the lives we live. Whether we realize it or not, the empty places are those parts of us that remind us that we were made for eternity and an eternal God. To be completely honest, we live, or at least I live most of my life unaware that these places even exist. And that’s an easy way to live. I feel no ache of longings unfulfilled. But then I start to sing, and something happens. In the same way my sound resonates in the openness of a recital hall, something about God’s love, His very Presence, resonates within every one of my empty places. As melodies ascend, I come face to face with my God. I catch a glimpse of eternity, and I long for more. I realize what I’m missing here. And that stirs me and brings a tear to my eye. All because I must face the fact that I live in a fallen world and I am a fallen being and, this side of Heaven, I will always be limited by that. The empty places that are filled for that moment will be empty again.

And so I am left with a choice. I can run from the empty places and continue living a safe life unaware of their existence. Or I can be brave, take a flying leap off of a cliff, and sing from the empty places. I can embrace the bittersweet taste of eternity like the richness of some luscious dark chocolate. Truly, the tears will soon dissolve as the utter joy of the fullness of God’s resonance overpowers the ache that might go along with it.

Singer or not, we all face this choice. What will we do with the empty places?