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The harmony of belonging Print
Guest column
Written by Morgan Smith   
Thursday, Jan. 21, 2016 -- 12:00 AM
Morgan Smith

The other day, I was watching an orchestra concert. I was moved by the beauty of the music­­, but even more struck by the intricate harmony of the instruments as the musicians played them in communion with one another.

I reflected upon the unity it takes to play in an orchestra. Every instrument is essential -- individually beautiful -- ­­but essential to the sound and wholeness of a piece of music. Each instrument is different. Even among a group of the same instruments, say the violins, there are variations in the sounds and colors of each individual. (Marks of their creator.)

Achieving unity

That being said, all of the individual instruments must play together in unison and harmony; ­­they must follow the conductor. It is immediately evident and strikingly annoying if one instrument would start playing out of tune, too loudly, or out of turn.

The musicians need to learn how to adjust and work on the changes that they need to make in order to achieve unity. They need to convert.

This is the essence of belonging. We are created as individuals -- ­­beautiful instruments -- to be played by the winds of life and conducted by the Creator. But, in order to live harmoniously, we must belong to one another and allow ourselves to be conducted by the Master Composer. We must devote ourselves to the art and the practice of perfection.

Patience needed

I also noticed how some of the instruments played all of the time, and some had to wait many measures for their turn. Patience is necessary for true belonging.

I see this dynamic playing out every day in the people around me. I see folks who are playing loudly and out of tune. I see folks who continue to do something that is not right for them and harmful to those around them. I see friends who are eagerly watching and waiting for their turn to come.

I am reminded of some friends of mine who are now married. I knew them before they got married, ­­before they even started dating. They are both great people, ­­great individuals.

But, when they started dating, they began to change. And, once they got engaged, it was evident that they belonged together. To watch this was one of the most beautiful things I have ever experienced. They complete each other.

There was something "other" that was happening to them that was mysterious, and I watched them become more and more happy and peaceful. The wedding day was total fruition of this harmony.

In dating, they had done some work together­­, made some of the changes they needed to make­­ to be in communion with one another. They had converted. They will continue to work at this unity and continue to experience conversion for the rest of their lives­­, in each joy and in each trial.

Living with purpose

Just like an instrument in an orchestra, we are each made with a specific shape, purpose, sound, and time to play and show our beauty in the grand scheme of sheet music that we call life.

We need to play in unity and communion with those around us, and we need to follow the Conductor to do so correctly. It is a large part of our human dignity to be able to participate in this orchestra and play our instrument for the piece we were made to play.

Living with purpose­­ -- this purpose for perfection of craft, the purpose of following something greater than the individual, and the purpose of work and unity -- ­­is necessary for the fullness of dignity to be experienced in the life of a person. We are all called to the beauty of work and the fullness of conversion ­­in each joy and each trial, ­­in every piece of music we play.

Are you living with this purpose? How well do you play with others? Are you living in communion? How do you experience belonging in your life?


Morgan Smith is a member of the Cathedral Parish in Madison and active in the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation.