For Christ plays in ten thousand places,
Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his
To the Father through the features of men’s faces.
Thus ends Hopkins’ sonnet, quoted by Eugene Peterson at the start of his book ‘Christ plays in ten thousand places’. He’s trying to put his finger on the ungraspable sense of connectedness to the world around us, those intangible hints of there being more than this, that exuberance and vigour of life in all its fullness. To grapple with the notion that somehow, mysteriously, behind these fleeting glimpses of beauty, truth and goodness is Christ – the source and end of all this living, played out in us.
It was Jez and Miriam who lent me Peterson’s book and now they’re up on stage in Oxford’s O2, with a fusion of notes and words that capture something of all that: a consciousness of an enterprise that is more than the sum of the parts we see around us, and a delight in just being here, at this point on the journey.
I love Miriam’s music. More than that, I love watching her, Jez and Adam on stage, knowing something of their lives, stories, aspirations and questions, beyond those that are articulated in their music. I see in them people who are pursuing that life in all its fullness. Not naively, and not without cost, but with an intentionality and lightheartedness that refuse to either sell-out to a functionalised and depersonalised theology or to chuck the theological baby out with the bathwater.
Sandi Thom’s up next. Different music but something of the same joyful battles and determined playfulness lurking around. I’m struck by the expressions, the onstage interactions, the response of the audience, the eyes not his… the features of men’s faces, the creative process itself, and the light and shadows. Perhaps my insights into eternity are glimpses not echoes, more seen not heard, words not notes.
That doesn’t, however, stop the fact that it’s her music that’s ringing in my ears as I leave, and that for the last 36 hours I’ve struggled to stop humming along.
I was born too late into a world that doesn’t care
Oh I wish I was a punk rocker with flowers in my hair…