A Numinous Luminous Ode

stars-1245902_960_720          It is a song of power and human frailty.  It is an epic of fear and a melody of trust. It is Skillet’s newest musical release simply called Stars. Stars recounts experiences that men often face that challenge and truly frighten them. The song narrates through lyrics and musicality of men’s discovery of a Power that pursues and provides safe havens and hope for which frail mankind is in need of. Using techniques that incorporate the beat of the music as well as potent imagery to reach out to the audience, the band sings an ode of a Word so powerful as to create heavenly bodies and maintain them, yet so intimate as to call men by name. The song reaches in to my inner needs and I listen on.

The band released the song in the form of a music video. The setting has darkened forms of nature, such as trees and hills in the foreground, with a backdrop of a star speckled night sky. The camera revolves and I feel as if I am slowly turning to get a full view of the star studded canopy. The song begins gently with a pulsating electronic tone, a pulse not unlike that of a heartbeat. A male soloist begins to gently sing as if telling a story by a campfire. For me it is the perfect, peaceful setting for stargazing and listening to a story. The first verse in Stars talks of how a Being created. He spoke. Life began. Action done! The soloist is then joined with a faint female singer, and together they croon tenderly, “but still you come,” signifying there is something more that is ongoing without actually identifying it. The singers identify to me the intimacy of this Entity through His calling man[kind] by name, imploring man to “come.”

In the Chorus the duet is joined by the other band members as well as all their instruments. The volume explodes into full band sound. The camera revolves in a faster circle around the canopy of stars. The chorus starts with the hope that a God who holds the stars in place, can also hold a heart that is prone to falling away and breaking. And the young people sing of lifting their heart “to the One who holds the stars.” This is an admission of submission. In the second verse the band sings of “deepest depths” and “darkest nights” as the night sky in the video darkens and the stars fade to be almost indiscernible. I too have experienced “dark” and difficult times and the song connects to my inner, inexpressible cries of need. The pulsating electronic tune takes on a heavier, faster drum beat like a heartbeat reflecting the fear. The band sings of the hope that the dark “Can’t separate, can’t keep me from your sight.” The band knows that God is always there, by their side. The third verse deals with a “raging storm,” a metaphor for another difficult time in a human life. The singers note that God is there at just the right time and He can calm the storm. From my own experience, I know this to be true. “He is never too late,” the band reassures. Timing is significant for an effective rescue in the midst of a storm.

The group then sings a bridge, a musical passage that asks the question, “What do I need to fear?” Their solution to the question is to remember that the God of love calls their name. Because God is personally acquainted with them and is physically with them, He will take care of the “storm” in their lives. The band continues to sing about the heart “fall[ing] away” or starting to “break.” As this song indicates, God had the ability to speak creation and to hold together, and He can do the same to mend a broken heart. Such power and ability we cannot understand, so the band points to the skies and observes these massive stars held in place and order by the hand of God. The author of Stars sings of “lifting up his heart.” I know I cannot physically lift my heart up in my hands to God. The action of “lifting the heart” is the process of giving God permission to control and “hold” the heart in safekeeping. As the band sings about the God calming the raging sea, the stars in the video are once again pinpoints of light in the velvety night sky. The lightening from the storm has ceased. The stars glitter peacefully. The music softens, the soloist sings alone again and insists confidently, “…Lifting up my heart, To the One who holds the stars, You’re the One who holds the stars.” The instruments fall silent. Within I sense a hallowed peace.

Citations

Pixabay. (2016). Free Image. Retrieved August 28, 2016 from: https://pixabay.com/en/stars-constellation-sky-night-sky-1245902/

Skillet. (May 26, 2016). Skillet Stars. Skilletband. Retrieved July 22, 2016 from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6qrIoH3RqYw

 

Stars

By Skillet

You spoke a word, life began

Told oceans where to start and where to end

You set in motion time and space

But still you come and you’re calling me by name

Still you come and you’re calling me by name.

 

If you can hold the stars in place

You can hold my heart the same

Whenever I fall away

Whenever I start to break

So here I am, lifting up my heart

To the one who holds the stars

 

The deepest depths, the darkest nights

Can’t separate, can’t keep me from your sight.

I get so lost, forget my way,

But still you love and you don’t forget my name.

 

If you can hold the stars in place

You can hold my heart the same

Whenever I fall away

Whenever I start to break

So here I am, lifting up my heart

 

If you can calm the ragin’ sea

You can calm the storm in me

You’re never too far away,

You never show up too late.

 

So here I am, lifting up my heart

To the one who holds the stars.

 

Your love has called my name

What do I have to fear?

What do I have to fear?

Your love has called my name

What do I have to fear?

What do I have to fear?

 

If you can hold the stars in place

You can hold my heart the same

Whenever I fall away

Whenever I start to break

So here I am, lifting up my heart

Lifting up my heart.

 

If you can calm the raging sea

You can calm the storm in me

You’re never too far away

You never show up too late

So here I am, lifting up my heart

To the one who holds the stars

You’re the one who holds the stars.

 

Skillet. (May 26, 2016). Skillet Stars. Skilletband. Retrieved July 22, 2016 from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6qrIoH3RqYwstars-1245902_960_720

An Out-of-This-World Experience

bhg-advertisement          As one’s eyes meander through luscious gardens in the June 2016 Better Homes and Gardens (BH&G) magazine, and pauses to absorb the details of vibrantly colored luxurious home décor ideas, one’s senses are suddenly jolted by a full page bland scene of slightly rosy colored bareness. Wait! That does not go with the lavish focus of the magazine. Immediately one sees the smiles of three astronauts in the bottom left corner of the ad and the dazzling, azure tones of the Toyota’s new Rav4 in the center of the page. By using contrasting elements of BH&G patrons’ interests, Toyota grabs their instant attention for an out-of-the-ordinary experience in order to introduce the company’s newest line of Earth friendly hybrid vehicles.

It seems very odd to me, to present patrons who are interested in creative home-making ideas with an ad featuring a Mars type of landscape. Yet as I focus in on the advertisement, carefully considering the clients and the very unlikely setting the ad portrays, I have to admire Toyota’s rather sly and clever approach with which they captivate their audience. Toyota knows this is the age of exploration. This is a time most people are acutely aware of statistics on the crowding and overpopulation of our planet Earth. In this era we are also keenly sensitive to the “carbon foot print” of man and the necessity of being better stewards of our planet’s resources. What better group of people to approach than the creative, nature sensitive, want-to-do-better, and socially considerate regulars of the BH&G consumers? Clientele such as I, are interested in an attractive, fuel efficient, versatile, and economical vehicles, perhaps like Toyota’s Rav4.

In my collegiate classes I do hear conversations on planet hunting and in the sciences there is speculations on the reality of fulfilling the dream of discovering another planet with the same propensities for life, such as our planet Earth offers. There are current appeals to finding a group of adventurous explorers willing to try out Mars to see if it might be made habitable. In the Toyota ad there are three young multicultural Mars astronauts. These astronauts depict a multi gender interests by using two men and one woman. They stand in a line posed to take a “selfie”. The handsome, almost Tom Cruise look-a-like astronaut taking the selfie has his helmet removed and cradled in his arm. Such a pose is characteristic of an astronaut that has just returned home. However, their suits are glistening white. This would suggest that they are about to embark on their adventure, not returning from a busy day. Bold red letters on the right side of the first astronaut’s space suit declares “Mars Simulation Facility.” This explains the reason why the first astronaut is able to have his helmet off and wear such a clean outfit. In reality, such a pose would not be possible. Behind the space suited young cosmonauts, spreads a vehicular traced reddish brown dusty landscape. In the distance are dark mountains set against a rosy colored sky. Such a detailed portrayal seems to be appealing to the university aged, gaming experts, of adventurous BH&G patrons.

Directly behind the astronauts, in position to be caught in the self-portrait from the astronaut’s cell phone, is an iridescent blue Toyota Rav4 Hybrid. The car’s bright color compliments the landscape of reddish hue. The vehicle’s hatch is open to receive or embark the NASA Mars Exploration Rover Mission (MER).  The MER is posed almost at the top of tracks that allows easy access to the hybrid’s hatch compartment. It is obvious to me that the ad suggests that the hatch is a perfect fit for the hallowed robot. Across the sky, in banner typeset, as if flown behind a biplane aircraft, are the words “HOW FAR WILL YOU TAKE IT”. At the bottom of the page are a few more words that declare, “THE ALL-NEW RAV4 HYBRID: With spacious cargo capacity and standard All-Wheel Drive with intelligence (AWD-i).” To me the use of the word “intelligence” also compliments the youthful, scientific explorers – boldly declaring that such wisdom selects only the best of vehicles to participate in their new world adventure. The ad is coaxing patrons to stretch their horizons and reality a little more beyond the norm and consider the company’s new hybrid as an answer to the youthful dreams. Hmmm…a test drive does sound like the perfect adventure to add to my agenda for the day.

 

Citation

Toyota. (June 2016). How far will you take it? Better Homes & Gardens. June 2016. p. 17.

Empathizing with “Survivor”

Survivor Blog Analysis

            The blog shows no name for the author. In a matter-of-fact manner she tells her story – a story of a child trapped in the physical abuse of her step-father. She beguiles her audience through the account of her childhood where as a young girl she fights to survive, trying to find a way to avoid her perpetrator. Repeatedly she lives in horror night after night, but she endures for fear of a greater terror, the threat of physical death should she say a word. The horror of her story is that when she finally gets brave enough to tell others what is happening to her, no one does anything to help her. Having had several friends who have gone through similar situations, I had to read Survivor’s story!

The author names her blog Survivor. She defines survival in these terms, “Survivor is a funny word, isn’t it? The definition of it is someone who survives particularly after someone has died. Part of me did die with that man, and I’ll never get another do over.” The pain in that comment makes my heart cry. I feel impelled to expound on this word “survivor”, as I see how it relates to her story. A survivor is often alone. A survivor is cut off from help. Somehow the survivor must rely on an inner strength to help them pull through. The argument in her story is this: though she is dead in one sense, she does make it back into the land of the living. She obtains a release from her predator, and celebrates the victory of justice served.

After reading Survivor’s story I had to check out the facts.  According to the National Center for Victims of Crimes, in their article of Child Sexual Abuse Statistics the incidences of child sexual abuse in 2012 were 1 in every 5 girls and 1 in every 20 boys. That is a frightening high number of children. The children at greatest risk are children between the ages of 7 and 17, school aged children. Survivor’s blog was followed by many responses. Some share a little of their story – it is heart rending! After seeing the statistics, is it any wonder why this topic touches a common cord in so many?

It took Survivor seventeen years after the nightmare had begun, when she could finally take matters into her own hands. She took action so that the perpetrator would not be in a position to take away another girl’s innocence.  Her underlying message is simply this; children need to be taken seriously when they finally get the courage to approach a trusted adult about sexual abuse. Action, by everyone of us reading her blog, needs to happen promptly to get the victim out of their horrific situation. As her stepdad slithered into position to strike another unsuspecting victim, the Survivor stepped in via the legal system and stopped him. His sentence compensated in part for the 9 years he had taken from the Survivor, and he had lost his next prey. For the author that was when she went from being victimized, to beginning to conquer her past.  I am proud to see that Survivor is able to build relationships. She is no longer alone. She has conquered the “victim position” in her experience and survived. She did not remain silent. Her cries saved another little girl. The author is not dead. She is very much alive! Her touching blog lays bare the survivor’s fight and with the information I too feel empowered to be more discerning and determined to make a difference should I meet a child “survivor”.

Citation

Bishop, K. (2016). Woman covered by white cloth. Free image: Public domain. Retrieved August 28, 2016 from: https://www.pexels.com/photo/emotions-feelings-emotion-feeling-89517/

Reporting on Sexual Abuse (2012). Child Sexual Abuse Statistics. National Center for Victims of Crimes.  Retrieved on June 13, 2016 from: https://victimsofcrime.org/media/reporting-on-child-sexual-abuse/child-sexual-abuse-statistics

Survivor. (May 3, 2016). WordPress Blog. Retrieved on May 31, 2016 from: https://lifereedited.wordpress.com/2016/05/03/survivor/

Analyzing

“What now?” I wondered semi-impatiently as my two year old first born dropped to a squatting position on the sidewalk. I bent down to see what had distracted him. A bug was shuffling from one side of the sidewalk to the other side of the sidewalk, past my son. I watched him in his observation. “Should I give him information? Or should I just let him observe and find out what questions he might have?” I pondered. I let him follow the bug with his gaze for a moment or two then asked him, “What are you doing?” “Bug!” he responded simply, pointing to the object of interest. We watched some more until the insect had gone on its merry way and was out of sight. This moment was the beginning of a great change for me in my life. I began to realize how fast paced my life had become, I learned from my son that there were fascinating things happening all around, and I learned to stop and pay attention to even the little details in life.

In that life changing event of taking the time with my son to observe a bug, I learned that we shared an interest in the scientific realm surrounding us and the importance of analysis. Analysis begins with observation. For me it is helpful to jot down, or take the time to draw out, the details I am discovering and not to be in a hurry to draw conclusions on what we were observing. It was important to record what was of interest in the subject being studied, what it was that I was specifically noticing or what was my understanding of what was revealed, as well as taking notes on anything different that I was not expecting to see. In time I also discovered that what I saw and observed could be completely different than what my children were noticing in the same event. Many times there was not one “more correct view”, nor necessarily any particular wrong views, but there could very well be several very different views of the same subject. What was fascinating is what and why each person’s analysis was important to them. Sometimes the topic stretched our own points of view, sometimes we had to “agree to disagree”, and more often we learned something new through the collaboration, and through our experience often reassessed our own points of view.

So as I embark on discussions on analyzing, I have to give my children credit for the experience and wisdom they taught me of taking time to observe, jotting down what I learned from my observations, and being slower at judging what was under scrutiny, while being willing to recognize that there could be more than one way to view the subject, thus being willing to be more fair and open minded in my conclusions.

Image of beetle retrieved May 15, 2016 from https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/d7/Cicindela_sexguttata_Fabricius_1.jpg