On a quiet, cool, rainy Sabbath...

It is cool and drizzling in vieux-Montréal and the whole neighborhood is moving slowly. We walked Lucie a short time ago and no one was in the park - and almost nobody is on the streets. It is a fine day to stay inside to read and think (and practice) before heading back down to the Jazz Festival for a dose of Joshua Redman avec Bad Plus. 
 
+ We are at the half way point in our sabbatical - 10 weeks left - and that both sounds too soon for returning but also like a healthy time period left to keep going deeper. IIn ten weeks I still have 70 days to work on the bass and 100,800 minutes for reflection and rest. Knowing that there is a closing to this gift encourages me to make wise choices for the time that remains. I may not get to do everything I imagined before the sabbatical started, but I will certainly get to the key aspects in greater depth. In that light, a few meandering thoughts call out for articulation...

+ We visited with friends from home yesterday for part of the day - showing them our hood and favorite eateries - and both Di and I realized this was the first time we've been "social" in over 70 days. Being serious introverts - and living in a Francophone neighborhood - has given us the chance to listen more than speak, hang out mostly with just one another (and Lucie) and order our days in ways that create ample times for silence and resting. Whatever we wind-up doing after we return, it is clear to us both that we are going to need more quiet, alone time in our daily/weekly routine than ever before.


+ We covered our TV and will likely mostly unplug when we return to the US. It would be fun to have access to some films - and a few programs - right now, but mostly it has been a sweet release to let go of the tube. We have returned to an old practice of reading out loud to one another in the evening. And reading a lot more literature and non-fiction, too. As Leonard 
Cohen singsI'm sentimental, if you know what I mean, I love the country but I can't stand the scene. And I'm neither left or right - I'm just staying home tonight - getting lost in that hopeless little screen. It clearly has been time to unplug.  

+ We need to get a CD player for our flat. One of the benefits of turning off the TV has been making more room for music. We've made an investment - thanks to the Lilly Grant - in some great jazz CDs, but there isn't much to play them on except my computer. And that's fine for me when I am in my study, but not so satisfying for evening listening or while preparing a late supper. Don't get me wrong, the silence is lovely, but it is also refreshing to hear Bill Evans making beautiful music through satisfying speakers, too. Not having access to our sound system has been an awakening.


+ We have discovered both how complicated - and wonderful - it is to share caring for our special needs dog. While in the Berkshires, Lucie's anxieties can easily be managed: we live in a quiet place, we rarely have guests into the house, we have a sun room with a gate to maintain her private space, she has free access to our secluded backyard for her personal needs, etc. Not so in Montréal.  Here we must accompany her everywhere. Here she is almost always on high alert. Here she experiences sounds and people totally bewildering to a nervous country puppy. At first, it was exasperating - mostly because she was demanding more of our time, creativity and energy. But as we learn more about communicating with her in her own way - and simply caring for her as she is rather than how we might like her to be - it has become an adventure. And I would even say it has become another unexpected blessing in slowing down and paying attention to a love that matters. I think it has been good for Lucie in an odd way too because she really loves being with us in a new way now.


+ I have discovered how much deeper I want to go as a bass player. IIn the busyness of life before the sabbatical, I had forgotten how important it is to carve out regular practice time. The three gifts I am receiving as a musician in this quiet time are clear: 1) humility - realizing how much I don't know; 2) patience - working to correct bad habits and go deeper into the craft of playing; and 3) gratitude - it is fun to play this crazy instrument - and even more fun to play it in community with musicians I love and respect - so I'm loving my time alone and anticipating my time with others. with a renewed vigor.

This time of solitude has already been invigorating and even healing. I look forward to what the next chapter will reveal. In that resting and trusting, I think of something Rilke wrote: 

Love your solitude and try to sing out with the pain it causes you. For those who are near you are far away... and this shows that the space around you is beginning to grow vast.... be happy about your growth, in which of course you can't take anyone with you, and be gentle with those who stay behind; be confident and calm in front of them and don't torment them with your doubts and don't frighten them with your faith or joy, which they wouldn't be able to comprehend. Seek out some simple and true feeling of what you have in common with them, which doesn't necessarily have to alter when you yourself change again and again; when you see them, love life in a form that is not your own and be indulgent toward those who are growing old, who are afraid of the aloneness that you trust.... and don't expect any understanding; but believe in a love that is being stored up for you like an inheritance, and have faith that in this love there is a strength and a blessing so large that you can travel as far as you wish without having to step outside it.

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just as I am said…
Across two years, I have loved reading you. Can you tell me of a Pastor who rides cycle and writes blogs the way you do?

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