Two melodies

The Poetry of Presence Book

Now I understand that there are two melodies playing,
one below the other, one easier to hear, the other

lower, steady, perhaps more faithful for being less heard
yet always present …

Annie Lighthart
(bio here)
The Second Music

Raining again – and I remember to give thanks for it: everything that is, here, has need of it. I shall be glad of the hot shower when I return home. The grass in near sight and farther, on the fells, is the greener and the richer for it. And the tap tap tapping of raindrops on the hood of my jacket lends a rhythm to my pace and heartbeat so noticeable that it brings me to a standstill, slightly out of breath, and silenced by the grey light of this early morning. And – not for the first time – I know within my soul that music is sometimes silent. It is, in fact, as often silence as it is ‘sound.’ Without the silences, all the notes would be jumbled together. There’d be cacophany, well enough, to be sure, but lacking nuance, depth, expression; dare I say it? – lacking comprehension. But there are two melodies: ‘one easier to hear, the other / lower, steady, perhaps more faithful for being less heard / yet always present.’ And I so easily might have missed it – today, and a hundred thousand million times before, and in the future. So I shall try to remember – for I was, am, and will be created by The Great Silence.

Questions and no answers

Make no mistake, I only achieve simplicity with enormous effort. As long as I have questions and no answers I’ll keep on writing.

Clarice Lispector
Hour of the Star

There’s no music without depth of silence upon which to paint notes. Often I have shared my love of ‘silent music’ – the spaces in between. Absence of answers, the unfinished, the infinite, the eternal, the questions – are as important to me as expressed chords and symphonies, every bit as important to me as the words I yearn to read, and shape upon my tongue, and set down upon a page, and have engraved upon my heart, occupying my days and nights, my soul-work, my love, my leisure.

It’s not arriving, or the making of judgments, proclamations, speeches or songs that draws me towards the eternal. It’s living with questions that have no trite answers. Writing, reading, making poetry and prayer, long-savouring notes and words, meditating before the great backdrop of silence. Effort. Gratitude. Occasionally glimpsing an Eden of simplicity.

From dust

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It was warm and we were ambling. Glorious cloud formations floated in the blue dome above us and I suppose I must have been waxing lyrical a bit! ‘Where does your imagination come from?’ my friend asked. ‘From dust,’ I replied immediately. ‘Or, to be more precise, from dust flecks in my eyes.’

Everyone’s experienced them. Perhaps lying in sunshine, on a freshly mown lawn in August. I didn’t know then, as a very small boy, about the Hebrew vision of Creation formed out of dust. But, in company with summer daydreamers all over the world, I could see – behind closed eyelids – little floating flecks of dust (or whatever it is that floats there) and thus began the habit of a lifetime: ‘watching’ a Creator’s playtimes. The beginnings of meditation, one might say. Knowing with a faith-full certainty that there are colours and causes, glories and great wonders, lights and shades of darkness, silences and sounds, warmth and coolness, profound music and mysteries, that are already ‘accessible’ to us long before we complicate our lives by straining (or training!) to see, or hear, or smell, or touch, or taste.

And in that garden ‘knowing’ I learned that faith is about something deeper and greater than humankind could possibly draw ultimate boundaries around. So, for me, our philosophical, political and religious convulsions, and our loves and hates – important though they be – are situated in a space much larger and freer than we usually inhabit.

And here, and there, in the poetry of eternal creativity, I anticipate, I imagine, and whether my eyes are closed or open, for me and for all of us, I hope. Today’s flecks of dust – ourselves and all created things – will be reshaped for the joy of creation.

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