Sunday, August 16, 2015

Music and its Mystic Ability to Hold Joy, Sorrow and Hope at the Same Time...

It was a rather uneventful day on the Sabbath Road... I spent the morning working in the the room and connecting with folk back home including Zack, hearing of his hopes and plans for travel and with Justin, and of his new kitten and furniture building project... awesome boys... so proud of them!

With my work done I packed the bile and headed to the Courtyard Marriott - my home for the next week.  I checked in with their new app and was disappointed to learn that my room was not ready... Oh well... there must be something to see in St. John's!

I put my meagher possessions in storage and headed off: Signal Hill, the Battery, Water Street and back to Duckworth Street...


It was hot... and humid... a rarity for St. John's this summer!!

I enjoyed the air conditioned room and ironed my clothes... and boy did they need it after being in compression bags for a week!  I should have taken before and after shots!!

With the clothes ironed I went looking for the swimming pool and was saddened to learn that there was not a pool in this facility... ah well, a shower and a beer...

While drinking my beer I learned on Facebook (you learn everything on Facebook these days) that Jane Johnston and Kelly Burke were at O'Reilly's pub... and so, with my beer consumed, I went looking for Jane and Kelly, music and fish and chips - wondering what on earth I was ever going  I was going to write about in this blog entry...

I had a brief visit with Jane and Kelly, enjoying the music and watching two senior fellows dancing...



And when Jane and Kelly left I found myself sitting next to two British sailors on shore leave.  We exchanged pleasantries and I found myself drawn deeply to the music: a ballad where the words were sad and the melody hopeful, a reel where the story was of brokenness and the tune lively and free, and a jig where joy met joy in completeness... and then, the last song of the set was a song that I first heard played in prison by a young man who, had it not been for alcohol and the demons of his past, could have been a top notch bluegrass artist: The Fields of Athenry


As I listened to the music I was taken back to to all the relationships I have been privileged to have with the men who came through the Chapel at Springhill Institution... pondering the choices that landed them in prison, their loss of freedom, the pain that was caused, the hope that some of them had for the future, and the reality that some of them are doing life on the instalment plan... and of course I remember and gave thanks for those who came through the doors, left and have never been seen again...

Life is like that isn't it... a multifaceted experience where we can simutaniously know sorrow, joy and hope... its not linear... sorrow does not move directly to joy... nor does hope easily find its way into the midst of sorrow... and sometimes they are all present at the same time...  Nor, is life clear cut.  Just because I do "X" I cannot be sure that I will know joy... or if I do "Y" that hope will sustain me...

This complexity of being can makes it extremely difficult to discern the "right" path... and so, I would suggest that it helps to listen to music and read poetry.  Music nurtures our ability to hold life in creative tension and poetry helps remind us that the most awkward combinations of syllables can make sense...

“Mysteries, Yes”
“Truly, we live with mysteries too marvelous
to be understood.

How grass can be nourishing in the
mouths of the lambs.
How rivers and stones are forever
in allegiance with gravity,
while we ourselves dream of rising.

How two hands touch and the bonds
will never be broken.
How people come, from delight or the
scars of damage,
to the comfort of a poem.

Let me keep my distance, always, from those
who think they have the answers.

Let me keep company always with those who say
“Look!” and laugh in astonishment,
and bow their heads.”
                                                      - Mary Oliver

I have always found myself wary of those who think they have the answers... of late I am drawn more and more to those who say "Look!" and laugh in astonishment, and bow their heads...

...on the Sabbath Road...


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