Sunday, June 10, 2018

What Song Plays in You?

by Sarah Van Diest @SarahVanDiest

Focused in nature, thematic in expression. Central, intrinsic, permanent, though not static. Unmoving, but not unbending. 

There is something in you fitting this description. A force you hold unique to yourself. You may have unearthed it, or maybe not. Others may see it more clearly than you do, but it is there. In the core of who you are is one melody that plays, one song that sings, one message that rings out. 

But what is it? 

One of my favorite authors is John O’Donohue, Irish poet and priest. He spoke of this idea from the angle we typically first see our song from. We often first see it as a flaw. We often first see it as something undesirable. That thing, inseparable from who we are, may be the very thing we feel needs to be surgically removed, expelled, or expunged. It may be the thing we loathe about ourselves. It may be the thing that causes us to hate who we are or hate living life. 

I will tell you what mine is. It haunts me and at times seems to want to drown me. I cannot beat it any more than I can escape it. It is the thorn in my flesh of which I have pleaded be taken away, yet it remains. I have wrestled it by the river and walked away limping. Its defeat, it seems, is my own demise. It is this: I harbor in the crevices of my soul a profound and enduring sadness. Its melody is low and mournful, with minor chords and lamenting harmonies. Its colors are those of the brewing, threatening storm in spring with deep grays, blues, and eerie greens. I cannot stop its swirling and I cannot stop being drawn to it.

O’Donohue writes, “In the end, every artist is haunted by a few central themes. Again and again, they return to the threshold of that disturbance and endeavor to excavate something new. This is the magnetic draw at the heart of the wound, the secret force of a silent hunger whose infinite longing is to find its unique voice” (Beauty: The Invisible Embrace).

This “infinite longing,” this unquenchable thirst I believe comes from a God-implanted hope. He made us to seek Life and Truth, and to seek them in the ultimatesense… so that we would “seek him and… find him” (Acts 17:27). There is something in that “magnetic draw” that leads us to the Father.

This sadness encased in me is not a flat thing. It is not onlysadness. If I hold my gaze steady and refuse my feet the urgency of running away, I can look at what this sadness camouflages. I can see through it to what it conceals. Held within its casing is sorrow’s absolute antithesis. Joy unspeakable is folded up inside, concentrated and purified, though buried. The curse of the outer coverings of this world wrap around the truth of joy and disguise it as something contrary to what it is. 

I know this to be true. I have felt the emergence of this joy from my cloisters of sorrow. Though fleeting, I have known its immenseness. Joy is what the Father placed in me and what I cannot keep away from, though I usually don’t see it as such. I usually don’t experience that side of my melody, my weeping, mournful song. When I am able to listen and able to hear, the most rapturous of songs plays. When I stop fighting this thing I say is miseryand instead allow my Father to simply love me – despair included, sorrow turns ever so slightly, though incredibly dramatically, and joy’s beauty reverberates. 

Truth draws us in to take a second look.

Though sorrow is joy’s concealer, it does not mean sorrow is an empty mask. It holds its own weight. There isgreat sadness in this world. There is tremendous grief. Tears are from a very real and powerful place. They are born from the imbedded understanding that this is not how life was intended to be. Joy in place of sorrow was the initial intent and plan. Joy’s restoration as the sustaining breath we breathe is our hope and our destiny. Our pains are very real, and thankfully, they are also temporary.  

My one song is this: sadness contrasts with joy and enlivens it, giving both aspects greater impact and significance. The one theme of my writing and my art is this: look beyond what is evident and observed to what is hidden and potential. My one hope is to find the Father in all things.

Investigate your soul. What has the Father placed in you? What can you not escape? What draws you back time and time again, even to the point of utter exasperation? What monster do you fight and what truth does your monster hold? Is there truth you are running from? 

Can you hear your song? If not, maybe ask someone who knows you well. What music does your life emit? What melody does your relationship to the world play? 

The Father has made you a beautiful piece of art. Trust him to finish what he started, to complete the work he began in you. Let him draw you in over and over again. Do not be afraid. He’s got you and he loves

TWEETABLESWhat song plays in you? Thoughts from @SarahVanDiest on @EdieMelson (Click to Tweet)

"The Father has made you a beautiful piece of art. Trust Him to finish what He started." @SarahVanDiest on @EdieMelson (Click to Tweet)

Educated as a teacher, Sarah taught school for nearly 20 years. As a young woman, she lived in China amid the rice paddies and water buffalo near Changsha, and then later taught English in Costa Rica for four years and raised her two sons.

Sarah is married for the second time, the mother of 2 boys and the step-mother to 3 more. She and her husband, David, work together in their agency The Van Diest Literary Agency. Her full name is Sarah Ruth Gerke Van Diest. She’s 5’5” and cuts her hair when stress overtakes her.

She is a freelance editor (including a New York Times and USA Today bestseller), blogger (The Write Conversation) and writer for hire. Her first book releases with NavPress in 2018. 


  1. Wonderful post Ms. Sarah. The good news... none of us are perfect, and we will not be made that until the day. Praise God, that day is coming soon. See you there young lady. God's blessings...

  2. Sarah, this speaks to me so deeply. I need to explore it within myself. Part of me hesitares and part of me is ready to dive in.

    1. There is much to discover and enjoy in who God made us to be!

  3. Lovely. Deep thoughts, my friend...

  4. I related to this one so much, Sarah. Thank you! Sharing it on my page.