Sunday, March 18, 2018

trust, patience and heart in music-making....

Making new music that is from the heart - as well as from skill, practice, soul and commitment - takes time. There is a place, when time is precious and the clock is running, for fast and efficient rehearsals. Choirs, jobs, deadlines, productions and all the rest demand a degree of cranking it out and moving on. Been there and done that - and I get it. But creating new music in cooperation with equal partners? Discovering nuance in the unique combination of sounds? Listening for both the movement of the Spirit and the energy of a composition's soul? That takes time: it warrants patience, honors serendipity, and insists upon trusting a wisdom greater that each individual musician. Dare I suggest that it takes love? In Eugene Peterson's brilliant reworking of I Corinthians 13, deep musical collaboration sounds a great deal like love:

Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.

Today for over three hours we worked on two songs. In between, of course, we told stories, considered the philosophy of art, made practical plans for various auditions and open mics in the next few months, and went over complicated aspects of one tune four and five times. We tried each song out with different emphasis. I switched from electric to upright bass - and added bowing to one section, too. In doing this not only did we hone our craft, but we grew closer by nourishing trust and vulnerability along the way. And in a time such as our own, love and solidarity are acts of resistance. They become bread for the journey and help us learn to live from our center. 

Every musician needs to practice: heart alone is often glorious but not always beautiful. St. Bob Dylan was clear: "I will know my song well before I start singing." But as this morning's reflection from Henri Nouwen makes clear on the
Fifth Sunday of Lent, if our lives never learn to descend into the heart, we remain impoverished and shallow.

The great challenge is living your wounds through instead of thinking them through. It is better to cry than to worry, better to feel your wounds deeply than to understand them, better to let them enter into your silence than to talk about them. The choice you face constantly is whether you are taking your wounds to your head or to your heart. In your head you can analyze them, find their causes and consequences, and coin words to speak and write about them. But no final healing is likely to come from that source. You need to let your wounds go down to your heart. Then you can live through them and discover that they will not destroy you.

It has been a long time since there was the trust, time and respect to make music from the center of love. I am so grateful.


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a spirituality of l'arche - part five

NOTE: I thought I would finish this series up earlier this week but on my way to some commitments, as John Lennon used to say, life happened...