Chasing Light: The Meaning Behind the Music

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Chasing Light

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One of my favorite flowers is the sunflower.  It is the tallest of the flowers, and often the biggest.

But the thing that fascinates me most about the sunflower is that however big or tall as it is, it always follows the sun.  It spends all its daylight hours riveted on the sun.  It seeks no glory for its size and hight.  It merely wants to ensure that it is high enough to be able to follow the sun without interruption.

How like the sunflower we should be – constantly looking to our Savior, Jesus Christ.  Why do we strive to live righteously?  Is it to glorify ourselves, or get the attention of the world?  No, it is to allow our spirits to be able to follow him without interruption.

There is another kind of sunflower.  They are the wild ones – the ones that have little interest in hight, size, or following the sun.  They are small, branch in all directions, and are considered weeds to most people.  They spread like wildfire, but they are not nearly as useful, large, and beautiful as the unblemished sunflower that chases the light.

We are to live in the world – that is not a command, but a fact.  But we are not to be of the world.  That is a command.  That does not mean we ignore those around us, but it does mean that our focus should be on the Savior.  Looking to Him ought to be our prime directive – the thing that we do no matter our situation or station in life.

Sometimes it will not be easy to know what the Savior would have us do in a particular situation.  We must seek His light.  We must reach for it.  If we cannot see Him from where we are, then we must grow spiritually taller and larger until we can see Him.  Then we must follow Him – forever.

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The Ancestor: The Meaning Behind the Music

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The Ancestor

ancestor(art by Maria Hathaway)

I served my mission in South Africa.  I loved learning about the people, the history, and the culture.  I was also fascinated by their religious views.  The native African religion – the one that was present before Christian missionaries ever came to South Africa, and which is still quite popular, has a very strong focus on one’s own ancestors.

Africans hold a great esteem for their ancestors.  Those practicing the native traditions would gather together annually with family to sacrifice a cow or sheep to their ancestors, and petition them for help, rain, protection, or whatever they felt they needed.  The major part of their religion focused on their ancestors.

When Christians of other faiths came and proselyted Africans, they told the people that their ancestors did not exist, that they had died, and were gone forever.  I don’t know if those Christians didn’t believe in an afterlife, or if they just said it to reject African tradition.  Either way, they taught the people that their ancestors no longer existed.

What a joy it was to be able to tell these people that their ancestors most certainly did exist, and that though we did not need to call on them for help, they were in need of our help.   They needed the help of their living descendants to perform the essential ordinances of the gospel in their behalf.  Because of their strong feelings towards their ancestors, most Africans received this news with great joy.

Setswana is the native language of Botswana, and while serving in that area, I made an interesting discovery about the Setswana word for God.  I had known throughout my mission that the word for God was Modimo.  Sometimes we would tell people we were barumua ba Modimo (messengers of God).

In Setswana, the word Motswana meant a Tswana person, or a person of the Tswana tribe.  To say Botswana would be the plural form of the same word – “Tswana people” or “people of the Tswana tribe.”  The prefix “mo” was singular form, and the word “bo” or  “ba”  was plural.

This fact became very interesting to me when I learned that the word for ancestors is badimo.  If I was understanding correctly, the word for God, Modimo, and the word of ancestors, badimo, were simply different prefixes for the same word – ancestor.  What insight that holds!

I suspect that the word Modimo was adopted by Africans because grasping the concept of worshiping someone besides an ancestor may have been difficult to understand.  But over time, this connection was likely forgotten as Christianity became the dominant religion in South Africa.

I think the connection is significant.  It would be hard to grasp the idea of honoring a great and powerful being who has no real relation to us.  If we were merely a clay or wood project God is working on, why should we want to emulate Him?  A statue can never take on the real characteristics of its model.

But if we are God’s children, and I testify that we are, then we can become like our Heavenly Father, if we will but follow the steps that He teaches.

Joseph Smith taught that “If men do not comprehend the character of God, they do not comprehend themselves” (History of the Church, V. 3, pg. 303).  I believe that until we know and seek to fulfill our potential to become like Him, we cannot become all that He wants us to be.  We are children of God, and as children, we are also heirs of all that He has and is, if we will live according to His word and commandments.

President Boyd K. Packer has said:

“You are a child of God. He is the father of your spirit. Spiritually you are of noble birth, the offspring of the King of Heaven. Fix that truth in your mind and hold to it. However many generations in your mortal ancestry, no matter what race or people you represent, the pedigree of your spirit can be written on a single line. You are a child of God!”
Boyd K. Packer, “Your Test of Courage,” New Era, Mar 1990, 4

So I think the word Modimo is a very appropriate name for our Father in Heaven.  Truly, to each and every one of us, He is The Ancestor.

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Roots: The Meaning behind the Music

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Roots

I have decided to release a song a day until the day of the CD release!  The first piece on the CD in The Fourth Day, but since I’ve already released that one, I’ll start with the second track, a piece called Roots.  The recording for this entry is the music Roots, with me telling about the meaning behind the music.  To hear the music without my voice, scroll  to playlist on the sidebar called, “The Ancestor CD,” and click on Roots.

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Roots

We often use the term, back to the basics.  When life gets complicated, we say, “Okay, time to go back to the basics.”
What are the basics?  What are the real fundamentals of life?

I have a game that I play once in a while called the “Why?” game.  You can play it alone, or you can play it with others, but the rules are the same:

Start with a question – something simple, like, “Why did I eat Cheerios for breakfast?”
Now answer the question.  “Because I was hungry, and that was the most convenient breakfast food.”  Then ask yourself, “Why was I hungry?” or “Why was that the most convenient food?” and then answer that question.
Keep asking why, and keep coming up with accurate answers (as accurate as your knowledge allows).

I have played this game many times.  Always, no matter what route my questions take, the answers always reach back to the most basic principles of life, and the most fundamental doctrines of the gospel, such as, “Because I am a child of God,” or, “Because life is eternal.”

The real basics are the real answers to every question, and those answers point to the real reasons for our existence.   The root of all questions and answers are in the gospel of Jesus Christ, and Heavenly Father is the root of all life.

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My First Music Video! Yay!

I’ve finally completed my first music video.  I guess it’s a little more like a music slideshow, but the piano piece is from the CD I’m planning on releasing at the end of July (If all goes well – and so far so good!) and it’s called, The Fourth Day, referring to the fourth day of creation.  That also means that this is the first time the piece has been published anywhere.  What do you think?

Copyright ©2009 Chas Hathaway, Willowrise LLC

And in case that version doesn’t work (some people’s computers don’t play it right), here’s a link to it on Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/user/chashathaway

If that doesn’t work, you can also watch it at Exposureroom.com

By the way, the giveaway where you help me come up with the name of my piano piece is still active!  Just comment with a name suggestion for the piece.  If one of the names you suggest is the one I decide on, then you get a free copy of my Dayspring CD.  It really is as simple as that, so just comment on that post with as many name suggestions as you want.  You can’t lose!

Jenniology – The Meaning Behind the Music

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Jenniology – The Meaning Behind the Music

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Tab 2 It took me awhile to decide what to study in college.  I had a lot of interests, and narrowing it down was difficult.  By the time it was time to sign up for school, I had it down to either music or genealogy.  I loved studying family history, and I thought it would be cool to go into a profession where I could help others with theirs.  But ultimately I knew I was more passionate about music.  Besides, I spent a lot more time practicing and thinking about music than I did genealogy, so I decided on music.
tabIt wasn’t until I had been going to college for a few years that I realized what I really wanted to have as my life study.  With only a few credits needed to get my Associates degree in music, I met Jenni.  She was the sweetest and prettiest girl I had ever met.  After a year of bumpy on and off dating, I asked her to marry me – the best choice I could have made.  It was then that I pledged myself to the study of Jenniology.
tabWe have been married since October 6, 2004, and I love her now more than EVER.  She is AMAZING!!!!  I am now a full time Jenniologist, and I am learning more every day.  Here are a few random Jenniology facts that I have learned already:

Tab 2Jenni loves candy – especially fruity candy, like Sprees and Bottlecaps.
Tab 2Jenni’s hair curls in a water fight.
Tab 2Jenni’s laugh makes any bad day great.
Tab 2Jenni has taught me that full-time motherhood is the best career possible.
Tab 2There’s nothing in the world like cuddling up to a sleepy Jenni.
Tab 2Eternal family is worth any price.  In fact, it’s worth every price.

Tab 2And she’s teaching me more all the time.  I love her, I love her, I love her!!!  Thanks, Jenni, for being who you are and letting me be your most dedicated student!

Read the meaning behind the music for more of Chas’s original pieces

Homecoming – The Meaning Behind the Music

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Homecoming: The Meaning Behind the Music

Homecoming is one of the piano solo pieces from my Dayspring CD.

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How comforting the light of the gospel is in the face of something as shocking as death!  Testimony, born of faith, adds a spiritual element to the otherwise abstract complexities of life.

That testimony is a real and powerful confidence that becomes indisputable in the heart of those that embrace it, and it is a real and life-sustaining thing.  This mortal life is but a moment.  After death we continue life as we had previously known it, before it was crudely interrupted by this frightening but essential phase of existence.

To those with such faith, death is not a thing to be feared at all.  In fact, death is more of a reunion than a separation.  The partings that come with death are only very temporary, and when all is said and done, this mortal life will seem to have been but a passing moment.

I have a photograph that I like to get out and look at once in a while.  It is of my older brother’s missionary homecoming. He is only seconds off the airplane from his mission to Brazil, in a tight embrace with Mom and Dad.  Their faces are full of excitement, joy, and love.

That picture has a lot of meaning for me.  I took it on my own full-time mission, and it reminded me that I must serve my mission honorably, so that when I return, I will have such a moment.

It also reminds me of another homecoming that I will someday experience.

The thought of leaving this life and rushing into the arms of my Heavenly Parents sometimes fills me with so much hope, and so much anticipation, that I have to remind myself that I still have much to do before I can qualify for such a reunion.

Perhaps it is the fear of the unknown that frightens us about death.  We thrive so much on regularity and tradition that even a minor change from the ordinary can throw us completely off balance.  Adventurous as we may occasionally feel, it seems that few of us feel ready to step beyond the comfort-zone of mortality into the surreal and unknown mystery we call death.  Even the most courageous people can’t deny that there is a bit of apprehension that accompanies impending death.  Perhaps to some, it is like lying down to sleep, knowing that whatever dream first enters their mind will be their new permanent reality.

But again, this is where faith plays such an essential role in our lives.  Life as we know it has the greatest opportunity for growth, experience, and learning.  It also allows us glimpses of the joy that will be available in the eternities.  Such glimpses give us hope for the fullness of joy that will be awaiting the righteous in the life to come.


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, by Chas Hathaway, buy Homecoming MP3 on iTunes, or see other writings about the meaning behind Chas Hathaway’s music.

The Comforter’s Fire

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Listen to Comforter’s Fire

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Mal. 3: 2-3
2 But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap:
3 And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness.

The Lord is a refiner. He allows people to experience trials in order to sanctify and purify them, to make them strong, compassionate, and clean. Surely the crucifixion of the Savior acted as a refiner’s fire to his disciples.

Knowing that His time was at hand, Jesus Christ spent his last night before his imprisonment with his apostles. He knew the fear and terror His

disciples were about to face, so

He promised to send them a comforter.

John 14:26, 16-18

26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;

17 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.

18 I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.

The fullness of that comfort did not come until they were baptized with fire and the Spirit on the day of Pentecost. The refinement that came from the horrible experience of the crucifixion acted to consecrate the apostles for their pending calls to take the gospel into all the world. The baptism of the Spirit felt on the day of Pentecost completed that purification, and gave them all the strength, power, and comfort necessary to become powerful vessels of the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ. It truly was a baptism of fire, and it changed them forever.

One lesson we can learn from this is that when endured properly and well, the Refiner’s fire can become the Comforter’s fire.

Dayspring: The Meaning Behind the Music

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Time is such an interesting phenomenon. It passes so quietly and consistently that sometimes we forget it’s passing. Some speculate that time is speeding up – or that our perception of time is changing, making time seem to pass faster, giving us less and less time. Have you ever thought about what it would mean if we could consciously alter our perception of time? What if we could freeze a moment, preventing the raindrop from ever reaching the ground? What if we could stand invisible and cause time to pass around us at a speed that made a year pass in a few moments?

What if a year could be condensed into one day? What if all four of our seasons were to cycle in a 24 hour period? I suppose morning would be springtime, day would be summer, afternoon would be autumn, and night would be winter. What would take place in the time of a single sunrise?

Our life passes in cycles. Each second there are atoms passing through us at unfathomable speeds, revolving like miniature galaxies – passing eons while we take a single breath. Perhaps if we were living on a planet the size of an atom, we would live out our lives and die before a millisecond of real time had passed.

Our minds process thousands of impulses in a moment, and our senses are constantly taking in fresh new information. Our hearts beat every second, minute after minute, hour after hour, day after day. Never does it stop, never does it rest. The sun rises each morning, and sets each night. So it has been since the beginning of the world.

If we expand outward, we find that while our tiny Earth spins carelessly through space, our Sun is also revolving, ever slower, around the center of the Milky-way galaxy. Now science is finding galaxies revolving around larger masses. I suppose one can never discover the end of such cycles, though they permeate our existence.

Now consider God, surrounded by the most glorious displays in eternity and the grandeur of the universe – But His attention is on His children, passing through this life in a few brief moments of His time. Each child was sent with reassurance and love. Each child was given all the knowledge they would need to return safely. As they left His presence, He asked them to remember, and return. But then, wandering the planet, each became preoccupied with his/her own interests and dreams, forgetting their Father almost entirely. They wallowed through darkness and death, as if in perpetual winter, without hope, without love, without light.

It pained Him to see us so oblivious to the fact that our life is valuable and short, yet it would defeat the purpose of our lives for Him to appear and take away all our problems. So instead, He sent a message. He sent His Son.

Through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us,

To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.

Luke 1:78-79

Today is a new day. In the eyes of Eternity, your life will pass in a single moment. Savor it, enjoy it, and make the most out of every second – but don’t forget to look up occasionally and gaze into the eyes looking down on you.

To listen to Dayspring, click on Dayspring on the playlist on the right