Tag Archives: Listen

Resurrection of the Soul

I’ve been knocked around pretty hard the past couple of weeks; the Universe’s way of telling me to be still, be silent, heal and gather energy for the coming rush of Spring.  So I spent most of last week curled up in bed, often with sinus pressure so agonizing that the only thing I could do was lay quietly, eyes closed, with only my thoughts for company.  Although I wouldn’t have said so in the moment, this was a good thing.  I was able to connect with some quieter, deeper parts of myself that have really gotten steam-rolled by all the intense energy of answering my Call and starting seminary.

And so, with a paper deadline looming and five days of missed work, in the midnight hours of Good Friday, I lay quietly and tuned in to the whispering of my heart.  I surrendered to the movement of Spirit through me, allowing my most sacred and inner of Soul-places to prepare for resurrection.

Upon waking on Saturday, my fever having broken in the night, I was filled with a dearly missed, but deeply familiar, surge of inspirational urgency.  I took some sinus drugs, downed some orange juice and dove into the pile of still-unpacked-moving boxes to find some of my music making gear.  I coaxed my almost-dead laptop awake, called my digital orchestra to attention and let the music flow.

I spent the day in bliss – composing, napping and hanging out with my love and our zoo.  I reveled in the feelings of making music again – something I have not really done in over a year.  It is indescribable, this rush of creativity inside that is uniquely me and yet so much more than “I”.  It is as if I am wide open.  In my mind’s eye, I see my chest and abdomen, the skin translucent, and inside is a golden field, full of sunlight, wildflowers, butterflies and bumblebees.  Gentle breezes brush through the tall grasses and this is the music, sweeping through me.  Where there was darkness and confusion and clutter and ‘noise’, now is freshness and light and breath.  Ah, I’ve missed this so.

So, while I continually reminded myself that I did NOT need to ask forgiveness of the professor who’s assignment I was going to turn in late, or the folks at work who would have to wait until Monday to talk to me, or the dishes in the kitchen that needed to be washed, I spent a beautiful Easter weekend resurrecting and reconnecting with an essential part of myself.  In a very real way, these past two weeks have been a cleansing and purging, culminating in the celebration of my renewed self, open and ready to rise up into my divinity, answering every call of my soul.

I have not yet finished the piece of music I’ve been working on all weekend, so I thought I’d share an old piece that fits well here.  The piece I am currently working on is called “Oh Rolling River” and is the 2nd piece in my American Plains Suite.  The 1st piece in that suite is “Dance of the Prairie Wind” and is as illustrative of what I am currently feeling as is possible.  It’s also perfectly appropriate for the day after Easter and the beginning of Spring.  Enjoy.

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Ministry of Presence

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I’ve become a bit of a podcast junkie, listening whenever I’m in the car.  I especially enjoy the storytelling shows and one of the best is UnFictional from KCRW.  A recent episode showcased the memories of a man who was a chaplain for 95 death row inmates in Texas.  It is very, very powerful.  Give it a go, but this is not light listening.  Be prepared.

 

Ministry of Presence – UnFictional on KCRW.

 

In this past November’s election, here in California we voted on a proposition to remove the death penalty that in the end was defeated.  Amidst celebrations for other election results, I was saddened by this defeat of Prop 34.  I could list all the reasons why I believe we should repeal the death penalty, but I think it’s more convincing to hear from those who have had direct contact with it.  Here’s a story from another of my favorite podcasts – Snap Judgment.  There’s a bit of music before the story starts, so be patient.

 

 

I realize I’ve laid a lot of heavy stuff out there already, but I have one more story on this topic.  Not quite as intense as the first two, but still very moving.

 

 

I don’t have any easy alternatives to the death penalty, but I have to believe that there are some out there.  If these three stories haven’t changed any minds, I hope that they at least have shown that the power of presence, faith and forgiveness prove that sometimes it is possible for people to change and each of us can make a difference in one person’s life, no matter how hopeless that life may seem.


When David Heard…

American composer Eric Whitacre wrote this choral piece, based on a single sentence from the Bible, II Samuel 18:33 –

When David heard that Absalom was slain he went up into his chamber over the gate and wept, my son, my son, O Absalom my son, would God I had died for thee!

When David Heard was commissioned by the Barlow Endowment for the Arts for the Brigham Young Singers, and is dedicated with love and silence to Dr. Ronald Staheli.

It received its premiere on March 26, 1999, and is one of the most emotionally charged pieces of music I have ever heard.  Full of a desperate, desolate beauty, found as much in the silence between the notes as in what the voices are singing, the piece is about grief, regret and love.

Do you ever have those days when you just feel sad?  Those moments when it feels like you are absolutely all alone?  For me, this song is perfect for those times.  First of all, because it’s over 15 minutes long it requires me to stop what I’m doing and be still for a bit, which is always a good thing.

Secondly, it focuses my attention.  Eric’s weaving of silence and sound, his repetition of the text and his masterful use of dynamics (loud and soft) create an experience that never releases its hold.  My attention is not allowed to wander, but is instead intensely focused on what is happening.

And thirdly, because of that intense focus, because I am so compellingly urged to not turn away from the difficult feelings within the song, I am brought into alignment with my own sadness, grief, loneliness, regret.  And I sit in the stillness with my pain, not denying it, but holding it.  And I am safe, cradled by the gorgeous swells of music, as I release the pain’s hold on me as David does.

It is, at its essence, mindfulness.  A non-judgmental awareness of what is happening in the present moment as opposed to denial and repression, and acceptance of it as a valid part of who we are and our experience.  For me, this gentle examination allows me to release any fear of the challenging feelings, thus releasing their power over me.

But all that metaphysical psycho babble aside, When David Heard is just a breathtakingly gorgeous piece of music, performed to perfection by the BYU singers, so give it a listen.


Message To Bears

Folding Leaves

If you want to take a moment to breathe and just feel good about life, I highly recommend doing so with the music of Message to Bears.

Taken from his website ~ “Message To Bears is the musical alias of English composer and multi-instrumentalist Jerome Alexander.   Alexander creates beautiful soundscapes by interweaving acoustic guitar, piano, electronics, ethereal samples, strings and hushed vocals.”

His music is soothing, natural and uncomplicated.  There are very few lyrics/vocals to distract from the lush and flowing compositions.  However, I don’t personally find this music good for sleep time or meditation, as there is an intrinsic joy that captures my spirit and takes it flying.

You can buy his music on Itunes or Amazon.

Enjoy!


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