Ode to Joy

When writing these messages I seem to be trapped in a musical infinitude. My creative imagining started innocently enough in December, expounding on the true meaning to be found in God resting us merry during the yuletide season. Then I progressed to reminiscing about Robert Burns’ toasting the absence of the old long since, or auld lang syne for those in need of a translation, which is how we traditionally close the old year.

I began the new one by formulating a resolution of posting a full year of messages based on the Johnny Mercer theme of accentuating the positive. And now I am stretching eclectic credulity to the limits by reaching even further back in time to build on the thought of sharing Mercer’s phrase, joy to the max, by relying on a true classic, Ode to Joy, for taking the next step in my quest to write fifty-two messages with positive themes.

My Pollyanna disguise this time does not really rely on Beethoven’s succulent riff in his oft performed 9th Symphony. Rather I am looking to his inspiration, Friedrich Schiller’s original but less well-known poem, to fuel my optimistic aspirations. Schiller’s Ode to Joy was written for a friend, who shared his reverence for the possibility of unity among humanity occasioned by the presence of Joy. Beethoven needed only to tweak a few lines to conform this utopian fantasia to his melodic sensibilities for a musical masterpiece to emerge, ensnare and enthuse a perpetually evolving audience, many of whom have no clue about what is being sung in German via allegro molto.

Schiller personified Joy as a beautiful woman the way Solomon envisioned Wisdom as a bride to be caressed. He praised her intoxicating ability to bind what human convention divides, everyone becoming brothers, “where your gentle wing abides.” Tenderness is her unstated hallmark for we consume her essence like infants suckling at her breast. Joy freely bestows her kisses upon us and we are adjured to live our lives, or run our race, “Joyful, like a hero going to the conquest.”

Schiller was a Christian romantic at odds with today’s religious skeptics, who view the overwhelming presence of their own personified deity of Evil as proof that there can be no eternally loving God. He inverted the concept and speculated that the pervasive presence of Joy, as evidenced by the persistence of brotherly love despite our shared afflictions, meant that “There must dwell a loving Father” in a nether region beyond sight, but not beyond feeling and the desire to share the blessing.

“This kiss is for all the world” is Joy’s unconditional gift for the taking. Graciously accepting what she so freely offers affirms our ability to choose, another quality which some would say supports the efficacy of a divine parent. The only important question for each of us to answer is whether or not we are willing to share her bounty. We each can ignite a sense of joy in another and illuminate their soul. A kindly spoken word will do. But a well-placed kiss, with Joy as our motivating spirit, would do even better. Give it a try and see if it doesn’t foster a sense of blissful unity with your beloved intended. It is a quest worth undertaking, joyfully.

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