This blog deals with issues pertaining to natural dignity and worth that all humanity deserves under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. You will find articles about Life issues pertinent to Christian living and faith.
“Our once great western Christian civilization is dying. If this matters to followers of Jesus Christ, then we must set aside our denominational differences and work together to strengthen the things that remain and reclaim what has been lost. Evangelicals and Catholics must stand together to re-establish that former Christian culture and moral consensus. We have the numbers and the organization but the question is this: Do we have the will to win this present spiritual battle for Jesus Christ against secularism? Will we prayerfully and cooperatively work toward a new Christian spiritual revival ― or will we choose to hunker down in our churches and denominationalisms and watch everything sink into the spiritual and moral abyss of a New Dark Age?” - Mark Davis Pickup
Tuesday, May 6, 2014
A STUDY OF TRANSCENDING DISABILITY
Ludwig van Beethoven
I keep a bust of Ludwig van Beethoven on the fireplace mantle in my home. (It's behind me in the photograph at the top of this blog). It reminds me of the human capacity to overcome adversity to achieve great things. When I doubt myself in my own acquired disability of multiple sclerosis, I listen to Beethoven -- particularly his 9th symphony -- written in total deafness but at the peak of his creative prowess.
In his 9th symphony I
detect a triumph of human spirit over adversity, sustained by a spark of God’s
love in a silent world. Although Beethoven used Schiller’s Ode to Joy, there is a spirituality or mystical quality to Beethoven’s
9thSymphony. It carries a note of authentic life experience; it
contains great energy yet a peace and acceptance won by strife, and a wisdom
only suffering can teach. To me, it illustrates how our loving God can reach
into the silent world of a deaf genius and touch us even 190 years later.
Most people are
aware that Beethoven was deaf when he wrote his 9th Symphony. It was
his crowning achievement. But I want to bring your attention to the fact
that Beethoven was going deaf when he wrote his 1st symphony. It was
detectable when he began composing it in 1798, and when it was completed in
1800, Beethoven’s had become quite anxious about his malady. By his own words,
Beethoven had noticed his hearing loss beginning in 1796 at the age of 26. By
1801 his physicians began various therapies, to no avail. His deafness
increased to become near total, yet his creative prowess never faltered.
All 9 symphonies
were composed with some level of deafness! His mind was so muscular. How could
it be that the standard bearer of the Romantic era was a deaf composer? Despite
this, Beethoven rose above his predicament to reach unequalled human
achievement. His beloved Moon Light Sonata was composed in serious deafness.
The same is true for his opera Fidelio, and Creatures of Prometheus. It is doubtful he heard much of his 5th
Symphony, his concerto for violin and orchestra or his Masses.
life story, we read about his inner and outer grief, his disappointment with
life, his isolation and emptiness brought on by his disability.
addressed this isolation himself in a letter he wrote to his brother Karl in
“[F]orgive me when you see me draw back....for me
there is no relaxation with my fellow man, no refined conversations, no mutual
exchange of ideas. I must live almost alone, like one who has been banished.
...But what a humiliation for me when someone standing next to me heard a flute
in the distance and I heard nothing, or someone standing next to me heard a
shepherd singing and again I heard nothing. Such incidents drove me almost to
despair; a little more of that and I would have ended my life – it was only my
art that held me back.”
In that same letter, Beethoven prayed, “O Divine One, thou seest my inmost soul
thou knowest that therein dwells the love of mankind and a desire to do
good.” At the end of his letter to
Karl he wrote in his despair, “Farewell
and do not wholly forget me when I am dead.”
These words were written at a crisis point for
Beethoven about his increasing disability. Happily for us, his crisis passed
and the great man rose above his deafness to eventually write his 9th
and final symphony at his height of creative power.
than 30 years with degenerative MS, I have observed and studied grief – both my
own and others. It is my experience that grief is diverse yet distinct. People
grieve in various ways. They grieve visually, in sound and abstract ways.
Perhaps grief rises at the sight of a lake, a flower or a certain café that
reminds the griever of happier days before sickness or disability. A particular
song may transport the griever to another time or place.
Grief is distinct
in that it is focused on an object. Grief is often dynamic because it still
interacts to its surroundings and stimulus. Healthy grieving is expressive.
Grief can express a multitude of emotions through music, writing, drama or even
dance. This is good. It indicates grief that is fluid and moving. As long as
grief is moving and expressive the griever is likely to emerge spiritually
matured.If it ceases to
move, it may stagnate and settle into depression. (Depression tends to turns in
on itself focusing of the darkness of the griever’s soul.)
Grief will come to
every life. Surrender your anguish to God’s love to use as a vehicle for
spiritual growth. The 17th Century Christian Poet, John Donne, wrote: “No man
hath affliction enough that is not matured, and ripened by it, and made fit for
God by that affliction.” Having said this, Donne also recognized that some
people may suffer and their suffering be no use to them.
Which will you be
when grief comes? -- Mark
[Click on image below or https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QDViACDYxnQ -Beethoven's 9th Symphony in D minor, Opus 125, 4th movement, performed by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Leonard Bernstein. Vienna is the place of Beethoven's death on March 26th 1827.]
This is a remarkably moving blog entry, Mark. Thank you for sharing it with us.
Another example of quiet heroism in the face of disability is Rush Limbaugh, persevering as a talk show host [!] despite deafness. If he weren't such a controversial, even divisive, figure, he would be held up as an encouraging example to others.
Thank you for your comments Dr. Chevlen. You are someone I hold in great admiration.
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