Earlier today, I prayed with one of my friends on campus and I biked back towards home after finishing. I cycled towards home down Serra Street past the main quad just after sunset. Some light lingered still, as if in homage to the set sun. For no particular reason (and against the very nature of late-October), my mind began to sing “Joy to the World!” As I reflected on the line, “Let Heaven and Nature sing,” I began to consider the connection between the beauty of Nature and the beauty of Heaven, and especially of Heaven’s plan of salvation through Christ.
I looked up at the trees, and it was as if they began to sing. And my eyes heard their Song. The Song of Twilight commenced by the shadows, shapes and colors of a million leaves. I smiled wide, passing trees on both sides. My teeth exposed, I felt the rhythm of the cool air. The trees sang their praises to God, and my smile would have grown if it were possible. My joy, ever filling, spilled over into my eyes which upturned, but even they would not be able to contain it. Then the Song moved to its crescendo! I heard as heaven above me joined the choir, singing in a deep blue baritone, and about me the buildings sang in earthen colors and the red of tile roofs. All of them together sang in a language unknown but familiar. Though I knew not the words, I knew their message and the Joy in their voices. Nature was unanimous and emphatic in its song: “God loves you.” And my Joy was full.
I continued pedaling down the road, and Joy from the Song continued filling me. Finally Joy overflowed my soul and streamed down my face in tears. They came first in a trickle and then as a flood. The Song was muffled by the tears, but still loud. As my eyes kept hearing of the Love of God, I continued to weep.
It must have been quite a sight for those who saw me: a full-grown man riding his bicycle, his face wet and dripping with tears, his eyes red with crying, and strangest of all, wearing a grin ear-to-ear and laughing.
I cycled for a quarter mile, barely able to see. And then at last, the Song faded. The choir members went back to merely being glorious sky and beautiful trees. But the memory of their melody still played in my soul.
I used to think of our souls as a sliding scale, and “full joy” was moving towards one side of that scale. I used to think Jesus’ promise to make full the joy of those who abided in Him was simply a movement of the scale a point or two. Today I learned that Jesus meant ‘full,’ and not ‘maximal,’ for ‘full’ implies a liquid. So then ‘full joy’ could not be measured by a scale; rather our souls catch Joy as it falls like rain from heaven. But we are imperfect and our souls, like cracked pottery, are always leaking and never full. But today, for no special reason beyond God’s delight, I was filled with Joy to overflowing by the Song of Twilight.