Five great questions of life: Life * Love * Learning * Labor * Leadership
Finding the Meaning of Life in the Austrian AlpsBy Evan Nehring
Crossing an ocean and climbing a mountain are two extraordinary ways to get perspective, to see the big picture. Distance gives space. Elevation helps you rise above it all to a place of timelessness.
Off to Europe!When Larry Bach first approached me about going to Europe as bass player for the college Concert Chorale, I turned him down. As wonderful as the experience sounded, really, I wouldn’t have the time to raise the money the rest of the group had. And I had plans. When he approached me a second time and offered to cover half of my expense, I was in.
My part would be with the combo: drums, sax, keyboard, and electric bass. So I would have the privilege of hauling bass guitar and amplifier across Germany and Austria, complete with the little European conversion kit for the electrical gear.
Musically, it meant learning the bass line for Robert Ray’s Gospel Mass, a black gospel rendition of the traditional Latin mass...from Gloria, Kyrie, and Acclamation-Hallelujah to Agnus Dei, Credo, and Sanctus. The music was challenging, but what did Larry ever give us that wasn’t?
Hurricanes of ApplauseThe newspaper headline from one German newspaper read, translated: Hurricanes of Applause for Lawrence Bach. True enough! There was standing ovation after standing ovation. The echoes of harmonies and applause still ring in my ears.
I remember climbing onto our tour bus and being guided miraculously by our driver through the narrow village streets. At one particularly tight corner, someone got out and adjusted the side mirror on a parked car so the bus could get through.
Todd and Dave entertained us one day with this goofy translation bit where one would speak in straight English into the bus microphone and then the other would speak in English with a thick German accent and give a translation that had no meaningful resemblance to the original words. Fine intercontinental humor!
Up into the MountainsAnd we wound our way, one day, up into the Austrian Alps to a youth hostel outside Vienna, where we would spend a day and a night to rest up and relax.
The MomentThen there I was, sitting alone on the shaded back step of the youth hostel chalet, Bible in my lap, gazing across the mountain meadow. I continued my weeks-long search for a Bible verse that would give complete meaning to my life. Finally, in that distant, elevated place, it landed.
“For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”Paul’s words in Philippians 1:21. It might seem morbid to some, the whole idea of including death in the theme of your life. But I wanted it to include everything, beginning to end and the whole wash of things in between.
Then there was something ancient and powerful about reciting the verse in the original Greek:
Emoi gar to zane Christos, kai to apothanane kerdos.To zane Christos, to live is Christ, and to pass on is to be with him forever. So all of life became about this singular idea, to live is Christ. To zane Christos.
QuestionDo you have a life verse? I'd love to hear about how it inspires you or why you chose it! What brought you to that place in your life? Inquiring minds want to know!
Too personal for public consumption? Shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I'll write back.
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