The melody in my heart


When I was a child
I once sat sobbing on the floor
Beside my mother’s piano
As she played and sang
For there was in her singing
A shy yet solemn glory
My smallness could not hold

And when I was asked
Why I was crying
I had no words for it
I only shook my head
And went on crying

Why is it that music
At its most beautiful
Opens a wound in us
An ache a desolation
Deep as a homesickness
For some far-off
And half-forgotten country

I’ve never understood
Why this is so

Bur there’s an ancient legend
From the other side of the world
That gives away the secret
Of this mysterious sorrow

For centuries on centuries
We have been wandering
But we were made for Paradise
As deer for the forest

And when music comes to us
With its heavenly beauty
It brings us desolation
For when we hear it
We half remember
That lost native country

We dimly remember the fields
Their fragrant windswept clover
The birdsongs in the orchards
The wild white violets in the moss
By the transparent streams

And shining at the heart of it
Is the longed-for beauty
Of the One who waits for us
Who will always wait for us
In those radiant meadows

Yet also came to live with us
And wanders where we wander.

“Music” by Anne Porter from Living Things: Collected Poems. © Steerforth Press, 2006.

I have been out of tune for the last few weeks.  It happens every now and then.  My routine gets disturbed and I stop hearing my music.  In those times when life is more demanding, there are fewer still moments.  It reminds me of what I once heard about the plight of the modern day humpback whale.  They swim through the ocean mostly alone but they call to one another and can be heard for miles and miles.  However, today it is getting harder and harder for them to be heard by their fellow whales because of the increased noise from human activity on and in the oceans.

It makes me sad to imagine the whales calling and calling and getting no response.   They must feel lost without that touch point,  that reassurance that they are not alone.  I wonder if this is what it is life for us too, when we can’t hear God calling.  God calls and calls but can’t be heard through the busyness of our lives.   When I don’t make the time for quiet and stillness, I feel lost.  In moments like these, a poem like “Music”  is most poignant and its message fresh.

Its true.  In music and art, I hear a call to a long-lost home.  The remembrance it creates of love and intimacy i have felt and that I know waits for me does open up a wound.  There is only one remedy.  Its not an impossible task by any means but it takes my cooperation.  It only asks that I stop and be still.  God does all the rest.  I hear God ask:  Clear up some space for me, please?  I am riding on your breath.  I whisper in the breeze.  I am the melody in your heart.

Inspiration from the week

As Kingfishers Catch Fire

By Gerard Manley Hopkins

As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame;
As tumbled over rim in roundy wells
Stones ring; like each tucked string tells, each hung bell’s
Bow swung finds tongue to fling out broad its name;
Each mortal thing does one thing and the same:
Deals out that being indoors each one dwells;
Selves — goes itself; myself it speaks and spells,
Crying Whát I dó is me: for that I came.

Who told you so?

I know its Easter but I am still wandering about in Genesis.  It started with Eve allowing doubt to grow.  Eve no longer seeing the glory of her life in the garden and believing God holds back–a complete and utter lie.  And then a friend reminded me of  the rest of the story.
Adam believes the lie too.  And  he clings to his shame and hides from God.  But then comes the great exchange between human and Divine.  The human says, “I am hiding because I am naked…(read also:  I am ashamed that I am not perfect, I am weak, I am broken, I am less than.)”  God responds simply, “Who told you so?”
Of course, its not that the ‘Who” is really that important.  Answering “who” leads me to far into the land of being a victim.  Poor me, all those negative voices, real and imagined.  No, I think that its really a rhetorical question meant to get me to gently swat myself on the head.  Point being, God didn’t tell me so.  What do I learn about God instead as I wander about that Garden?  God=lavish, verdant, abundant, creative, glorious.
Sure there are some yucky things in the Garden too.  Bugs and vegetation that have seen better days but those lay on the earth waiting to contribute to new life.  As R. Rohr reminds us “everything belongs.”  Every moment, decision, place, person–good, bad, neutral–work to bring me to the full life Jesus promised.    In God’s economy nothing is wasted.  While I may not be perfect, where I am is perfect.  When I have learned what I need to learn, I will move on.
I will listen to the voice of God and live.  God’s words are everywhere speaking truth to me and in my best moments I put my trust in them and my heart fills with gratitude.  I trust these words of the mystic poet, Walt Whitman from his Song of the Open Road:
“I am larger, better than I thought; I did not know I held so much goodness.  All seems beautiful to me.”