Skip to main content

Deep Music


For He can well be loved, but he cannot be thought. By love he can be grasped and held, but by thought, neither grasped nor held. 

Ada has been told that today Amma and Pappa will be here. So as soon as she wakes she pushes her little pyjama clad body behind the blind, so she can see out the window, down the drive to the road from which we will emerge. Her whole little self; her dark brown eyes sing a song of hope and expectation. 

We are texted the photo and hasten our progress Northwards. Deep calls to deep. 

I awake at 6 am in the guest bedroom with the gentle rhythm of Clemency's sleeping breath playing counterpoint to the tattoo of the rain on the roof.  Through the walls I hear a conversation; the words are inaudible but the shape and timbre of the voices forms a soft melody. My son in law is making his breakfast and Noah has risen to be with him. A soft, piping of enquiry and exclamation. A muted thrum of strength constrained to gentleness. I hear nurture. Adulation. Guidance. Aspiration. Connection. Love.  It's all there in the tone and the sound of movement, to which the words spoken are almost incidental.

We sang before we spoke. In our infancy, for a year or two before we knew how to utter a single word, we were eloquent in our use of melody and percussion and (dis)harmony to proclaim our needs and fears and loves and urgent longings. Long before that our distant ancestors gathered in tribes and families. They communicated, one with the other, in the ways that all social animals do: by gesturing and touching, but mostly by vocalising those tunes which still underlie our words. And which still make what is said less eloquent by far than how it is said. 

Sometime, a fair way down our evolutionary path, the growing demands of the specific and particular intersected with necessary changes in the anatomy of our throats and gave rise to words. Language became the first in that procession of many artefacts (fire, cities, wheels, clocks, books, engines, computers...) which changed not just how we did things but who we are. 

And now we build our world of words. We build ourselves of words. We think in words and imagine that without words there can be no meaning.  We forget completely how words are clumsy and partial and approximate. We forget the deeper music to which our souls danced for aeons before we learned to speak.

Until that time when we realise that words betray us and we know that they can take us no further than the edges of our small bounded worlds. 

Then there is nothing left for us but silence and the listening for what is hidden by our words.

For He can well be loved, but he cannot be thought. By love he can be grasped and held, but by thought, neither grasped nor held. 


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Turn Sideways Into The Light

David Whyte speaks in his audio series What To Remember When Waking of the myth of the Tuatha De Danann. They were a mythical race from Ireland's past who were tall, magical, mystical people devoted to beauty and artistry. When another more brutal people, the Milesians invaded Ireland the Tuatha De Danann fought them off in two battles, but were faced with a third, decisive battle against overwhelming odds. So, lined up in battle formation and facing almost certain defeat, the Tuatha De Danann turned sideways into the light and disappeared. Whyte's retelling is, to put it mildly, a gloss, but I am quite taken with the phrase and with the phenomenon it describes. Turning sideways into the light is the realisation that there are some encounters that are damaging to all involved in them: no one wins a war. Faced with such an exchange, to turn sideways into the light is to seek another, more whole form of relationship. It is to reject the ground rules of the conversation as they

En Hakkore

In the hills up behind Ranfurly there used to be a town, Hamilton, which at one stage was home to 5,000 people. All that remains of it now is a graveyard, fenced off and baking in the lonely brown hills. Near it, in the 1930s a large Sanitorium was built for the treatment of tuberculosis and other respiratory ailments. It was a substantial complex of buildings with wards, a nurses hostel, impressive houses for the manager and superintendent and all the utility buildings needed for such a large operation. The treatment offered consisted of isolation, views and weather. Patients were exposed to the air, the tons of it which whistled past, often at great speed, the warmth of the sun and the cold. They were housed in small cubicles opening onto huge glassed verandas where they cooked in the summer and froze in the winter and often, what with the wholesome food and the exercise, got better. When advances in antibiotics rendered the Sanitorium obsolete it was turned into a Borstal and the

The Bell and the Blackbird

Nikon D7100, Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G, 1/400 f8, iso200 A couple of weeks ago Clemency and I drove to Queenstown to hear the poet David Whyte. I think that people resonate with writers when they articulate for us the doings of our soul, and David Whyte has done that for me several times, as I have mentioned here and here and here and here .  I had seen that he was in New Zealand to conduct one of his famous, week long walking tours, which I would dearly love to have joined, but my budget didn't stretch to the $US5,000 a head ticket price. But I saw  A Day With David Whyte advertised and decided that whatever the cost, I was going. Turns out it was only $95 a head, so Clemency, despite the fact that she was only vaguely aware of who he was,  came too. We left home in the dark and arrived in plenty of time for the 10.00 am start. The venue was a kind of back packer type place on the shore of Lake Wakatipu. About 60 or so people were there, mostly women, all of them looking l

Centering Prayer Retreat

    A 3 day taught retreat in the practice of Centering Prayer.   Saturday October 2 2021 - Monday October 4 2021 Centering Prayer is a form of Christian silent contemplative prayer. This retreat is suitable for beginners in silent prayer, or for more experienced practitioners wishing to refresh their practice.  The retreat will be held in the En Hakkore retreat centre in the hills above Waipiata in the Maniototo. There will be daily sessions of silent prayer, instruction and discussion. The venue is spacious and set in an expansive landscape. there will be some time for personal reflection.  The cost is $175 per person which includes 2 nights accommodation and all meals.   Since the beginning, following the example of Jesus, there has been a tradition of silent prayer in the Christian Church. Over the centuries this tradition faded from the popular view and became confined to monasteries. It was kept alive by a largely ignored, but never fading lineage of Christian contemplatives.  

Camino, by David Whyte

This poem captures it perfectly Camino. The way forward, the way between things, the way already walked before you, the path disappearing and re-appearing even as the ground gave way beneath you, the grief apparent only in the moment of forgetting, then the river, the mountain, the lifting song of the Sky Lark inviting you over the rain filled pass when your legs had given up, and after, it would be dusk and the half-lit villages in evening light; other people's homes glimpsed through lighted windows and inside, other people's lives; your own home you had left crowding your memory as you looked to see a child playing or a mother moving from one side of a room to another, your eyes wet with the keen cold wind of Navarre. But your loss brought you here to walk under one name and one name only, and to find the guise under which all loss can live; remember you were given that name every day along the way, remember you were greeted as such, and you neede