Something new from Fr. John

Posted January 9, 2008

Singing in the Dark

John H. Hampsch, C.M.F.

Imitative pet birds, like bullfinches, have been taught to sing delightful piano melodies—not just typical bird chirping—by being repeatedly forced to hear, and thus learn to imitate, such beautiful music. But the learning process is enormously enhanced when the pianist plays for the birds in total darkness, so that the birds’ attention is not diverted by visible surroundings and movements.

That fascinating factoid encompasses a subtle analogy. The darkness that surrounds us in our times of adversity and misfortune is often the very ambience chosen by our Divine Musician to teach us the most beautiful soul music this side of heaven; the Holy Spirit enables us to “make melody in our hearts” as Paul reminds us (Eph. 5:18-19). Mysteriously, it is often in the darkest periods of our life, when distracting frivolities no longer divert our attention from more serious matters of the soul, that grace works its refining wonders. It is in the undistracting chamber of our darkest trials that we are strengthened by hardships that would otherwise weaken us. Truly, as Elihu reminded Job, “God gives strength in the night” (Job 35:10). That’s one of the most elusive parts of that “silver lining” at the hems of our clouds of misery.