7:11 PM. In the back of Saint Mary’s
cathedral, listening to an organ recital by Robert Summerby-Murray, the president of Saint Mary’s University. GLORY BE, is it H O T in here. The music is spectacular, though. Not quite the cosmos effect of listening to the University of King’s College Chapel choir at All Saints…somehow, there isn’t the same sense of internal space, the room to move among the parts and gaze at the wonders in motion within the beauty being created. Maybe that is the difference? This music is beautiful from the outside—like a machine can be beautiful in function and design—e.g, a motorcycle’s aesthetic perfection. Listening to the choir was a chance to be inside something beautifully alive, a system, an “organic” system…a galaxy, or an atom with its protons, neutrons, and electrons in elliptical circulation, giving form and substance to Being. This music tonight is Energy, pure, raw, bold, and unabashedly itself, even the gentler pieces.
I find it so fascinating that all of these natural images keep coming to me when I bring the two experiences together. Plants and metals; fiber and stone; atoms and universes, mass and energy… Natural images and contrasts of size… It sounds a bit messy and disparate when I read this, yet it intuitively makes sense to me. Because, though the images seem at extremes from each other, maybe it isn’t about placing them on a line—maybe those images are where the circle comes together and it’s about the diversity of what is held in common: Rhythm, movement, flow, inner/outer of one whole, breath, voice, communication, Life….all present in each, yet such different images are generated.
It all makes me think about the epitaph of Ignatius… Non coerceri maximo, continuo minimo, divinum est: Not to be confined by the greatest, yet to be contained within the smallest, is divine.
What is at play among the harmonies and contrasts; the lift of a note that hangs at roof peak and the roll of weighty might that pours music into the pews and spreads until it finds its level…. It’s the same thing that sparks between syllables for me and wondrously binds mustard, oil and vinegar in a dressing, and what happens in a meaningful conversation with stranger or friend… It’s Rhythm, proportion, science, language, math, music…beauty…passion…creativity, interest…generativity…For me, this is the Stuff of God… in so far as God is of Stuff: …essence…element…mystery…wonder…Source, origin.
And the diversity of ways that this is all revealed! Through chorus, through organ, through tear, through silence, landscape, literature, poetry, relationship to self to other, to Source… The fullness of truth in each of those things does not limit or diminish the fullness in any of the others…
Somehow, believing that makes things all the more incredible, more free, more ‘and with Ah! Bright Wings.’ (G.M. Hopkins)