Monday, August 20, 2012

Dancing with the Holy

This is where I am staying.  I got up and went fly-fishing today.  I should amend that to say 'fly-casting' because I was able to ascertain that my fishing muscles could still remember the casting motion even though the muscles are not quite up to  long periods of use.  I am still capable of really snarling a fly line beyond the place of use and I can still hook the seat of my pants.  So all is right with the world.

Retirement it a holy thing.  It allows one to recognize failure but not get overwhelmed with having to fix it.  Normally I would have spent the rest of the afternoon trying to correct my form and bring those flabby muscles into line.  But today I am content that I have gotten to reacquaint myself with old joys and beautiful scenery.  I can come home without fish and bask in the simple pleasure that 'I've still got it' and on the next time out I will be able to cast to those pesky trout without scaring them.

Last night again we heard a concert from Music from Angle Fire.  We had decided that we wouldn't go the 45mins. away to go to the nearest Episcopal Church.  The service was way too early for vacation.  We didn't go to the local unified church service either.  But the music presentation was Joseph Hayden's The Seven Last Words of Christ from the Cross.  We heard it in its string quartet form.  The concert was held in the local unified church set facing the mountains.  The concert began at dusk and the  musicians had only their desk lamps to lighten their music.  As the sun fell gradually the church--a beautifully simple open clear glassed building--darkened with the hues of the sunset.  The shadow of the cruciform timbers of one side of the nave shadowed cruciform shapes upon the clear glass of the other side of the building.  The performance was clearly "Church" for me.

The music was somber and moving.  It was designed to support the service of "The Seven Last Words" interspersing the last words of Jesus upon the Cross.  I have done the Seven Last Words service on Good Friday many times in my career but never have I heard these particular interludes.  Hayden, the originator of the string quartet, used his vast talent to bring such a momentous event to life with his music.  Program music, that music that tells a story, is really not a concept until the late Romantic era, but in Hayden's Classic-era sonata form, the Passion is experienced without comment save the Scriptural passages themselves.

It has always been difficult for me to understand which came first in my faith, music or relationship with the Divine.  I think that music was the vehicle by which I came to know the reality of God. But one does not come without the other.   I remember in my 20's making the distinction between performing and offering my music as gift to the God who made the making of music possible.

For me there is a dance with the Holy that takes place when I write, or compose or play music or teach or preach or cast for trout.  I do not dance.  I am not one who learns the steps to music or gaily trip the light fantastic.  My body is not one that easily can follow another's lead.  And I have often felt this was a sad deficit in my life.  But the dance I have learned is the dance of faith that entertains the holy and the mundane so that it creates a holistic involvement of body and mind and that whatever it is that we often call a soul.  And while I can't get my body to always embrace the actual dance steps, the mind will compensate as the heart is filled with this aggregation of the learned and practiced with the spirit of the moment that creates moments of utter bliss.

It is these moments of utter bliss that I experience as the presence of God.  And it is these moments that I savor as the revelation of the Divine One, the Creator.  It is this Creator that deserves my worship and praise.  It is this Holy One that not only reminds me of my humanity and mortality, but also reminds me of my call to Divinity and immortality.  And when in the liturgy we hear "Do this in remembrance of me" I recognize that relationship in that remembered bliss.

Yesterday we toured the Taos Pueblo, the longest continually inhabited area in the history of the western hemisphere.  I am intrigued by their culture and especially their faith which they guard from the prying eyes of those who would like to find fault with it.  It is only through the visual art do you get a hint of the depths of their relationship with the holy in their lives.  Even thousands of years ago, these people knew the beauty of Creation and set their living and worship in the center of that beauty. They absorbed the trappings of Roman Catholicism without losing their respect for their own kachinas or fetishes and talismans.  They still create pots, jewelry and carvings with the designs of these powerful totems as offerings just as surely as my music was offering to the God I recognize in my dance.  Even today, the Indians find such fulfillment in the dances of their people and the vocabulary of their unwritten language.  The recognize that their dance with their Creator is just as demanding of them as I see in the message of the Passion, or the celebration of the Eucharist.

I am ashamed of what my faith has done to theirs in the name of 'civilization.'   I am heartsick with the loss of the possibility to share what is holy together because of the acts of my people.  And I can only stand at the door of their culture and respect the dance they have made over the past 500 years to maintain a culture that reveals goodness, care and love in the face of oppression, slavery and ignorance.

Perhaps it is this that makes my dance with the Passion of Christ, my dance with the trout line, the way of the Tiwa all significant.  It is all about the remembrance that we are related, we dance different steps but to the same music--the music a Creator God instills in our hearts.  



Mary Helen said...

I resonate .....

Crimson Rambler said...

This is very beautiful -- and I thank you for it!

Hot Cup Lutheran said...

bless you as you rest, renew, remember...

i've long thought of NM as holy ground. seems that is becoming true for you as well.