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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. 


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