Published on Dec 3rd, 2015 by wpd-office | 0

The stirring strains of Modest Mussorgsky’s great “Pictures from an Exhibition” caused me to sit bolt upright! The Promenade theme is as grand as any music ever composed! Mussorgsky sought to portray the artistic gallery in which Viktor Hartmann’s works hung in an intriguing sequence of Russian stories, the stories that kindly old grandmothers would tell at night by the fire. Viktor Hartmann had been Modest Mussorgsky’s friend, and so Mussorgsky wanted to do his dead friend the honor of “painting” Hartmann’s pictures in music. Ones that we still know about are the “Ballet of the Unhatched Chicks,” “The Hut on Chicken Legs,” “The Catacombs,” and “The Great Gate of Kiev.” The music was originally piano sketches, but has since become pieces played by orchestras and bands from the very good to the struggling little ones in our nation’s grade schools. And yet, no matter where played, the Promenade theme stirs the very heart of soul of the listener.

As I heard this music again, however, I began to think of pictures–not the Hartman pictures, but all of the pictures of our lives that we have taken, that remain in our memories, that sometimes hang on walls, that are grainy black and white, that are crazily skewed, that are brilliantly colored. What of the pictures that tell stories of us when we were just little tykes, when we went off to school for the first time, when we went to a prom, when we began college, when we took our first job. when we were married (or not), when our families began to arrive, how those young ones grew up, how we sat around the kitchen table, how we listened in the living room to the radio, how began to use cell phones for our pictures, how we could take pictures of ourselves with no one else around, etc. etc!  We can scarcely believe that, 200 years ago, no one had ever heard of pictures, and only the rich, who could hire painters to do their portraits, could ever have their pictures on walls.

And as we see the old pictures, and the new, our lives flip by, and we can scarcely believe how quickly time travels, at least according to pictures.  Only a month ago were we wearing our strait-laced clothes of childhood. Just the day before yesterday, we were married and with jobs, and the future stretched before us without limit. Only a day has gone by since we had our families. Maybe for the younger ones reading this, your pictures are just about this new. For some of us who are older, we cannot believe how the days have flown by.

Far more important, however, than these pictures of yesteryear are what our lives are becoming today! Mussorgsky wanted to show the work of Viktor Hartmann when Hartmann was living! What do the people around us see in our lives? Do they see people having fun? Do they see persons weathered with living? Do they see kindly people? Do they see frantic people? Do they see gentle people? Do they see people still trying for control or do they show people who have come to a peace with their souls? Do they see persons still bound by rules or do they see persons unbound to caring and loving whatever and wherever it is needed? Do they see persons for whom the sunshine of life is smiling with beauty and grace? Do they see persons moving graciously and gracefully toward life’s end and its eternal beginning? The “Promenade” music haunts us with our own pictures, our own ways of being. What are our pictures at our own exhibition?

You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot. — Matthew 5:13

Grace & Peace,

Sonja signature00025



Sonja Griffith,
District Executive Minister

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