24 April 2012

all you need IS

Earth's crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God;
But only he who sees, takes off his shoes,
The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries,
And daub their natural faces unaware.
-- Elizabeth Browning Barrett

a 1977 black lincoln town car pulls into the gravely, dusty parking lot of a roadside diner.

the man behind the wheel is a known local eccentric.

dressed in his customary hat, wool scarf, long coat and gloves - all of which he wears year-round - he quietly makes his way into the diner and sits himself down at a table right in the middle of the dining area. he is presented with a cup of coffee and a glass of water by the waitress. in silence.

the noise of clattering plates and clinking glasses fills the space. but for him, it is merely the usual backing soundtrack to the voices around him engaging in various modes of conversation. a man talking about his job as a plumber. a woman sharing concern about her daughter's life choices. two rough and tumble guys arguing over football. a child repeatedly asking his mother for ice cream to go with his eggs and potatoes. the waitress shouting orders back to the cook, and gossiping with customers at the counter about the latest exploits of the screen idols of the day.

to the typical customer, it's all simply random chattering and clattering. but to the eccentric, is something much more.

as he listens more and more carefully, he hears melodies arising out of the different voices, and harmonies and rhythms emerging from the sounds of dishes dancing on tables and crashing into sinks. he hears not cacophony, but a concerto.

it is a symphony of sounds.

it is the music of the spheres.

it is the orchestra of the Spirit.

and he takes his place in the role of 'conductor', the maestro of mystery and magnificence.

he gently lifts his right hand up from the table and begins gesturing every so slightly in a graceful, curving motion, the beginnings of direction. and then it swoops down to the left and back again, and is joined by the left hand giving expression to another part of the spontaneous composition he experiences as it unfolds right in his midst. the music builds into a greater complexity, falling and rising with each sigh and giggle, every cry and sniffle, the slurps and the burps coalescing with the tinks and clinks. in his mind, his heart, his spirit, it is evolving into a masterpiece of the moment, setting his countenance to soar higher and higher and higher.

then it stops with a crash.

as the waitress sets his plate of breakfast on the table before him.

and then breaks the silence with words directed at him.

'the usual for you, Mr. Gould.'

you see, the well known local eccentric was also a world-renowned, yet reclusive, musical genius.

but one need not be a 'musical genius' to perceive the powerful Presence manifest in an experience like this.

there was nothing out of the ordinary about what happened. a man pulls up to a diner, walks in, takes his seat at a table, waits for his usual breakfast to arrive, and then it arrives. while he waits, he notices people around him talking with each other, eating and drinking, and the service staff doing their usual jobs. no clues are present that would single out this experience as being somehow 'magical' or extraordinary.

and yet, Glenn Gould experienced this ordinary occasion as a series of moments exploding with the extraordinary, saturated with Spirit, resonating with rhapsodic rhythm and marvelous melody, the 'secular' soaked with the 'sacred'.

through his eyes and ears, his touch and taste and smell, his spirit, what was a natural way to start his day was in actuality a vehicle for him to experience the supernatural right in his midst.

in his perception, what was happening at the diner wasn't mayhem.

it was music.

we live in the same world as Mr. Gould.

we have similar experiences to the one described here every single day.

we have the same five senses.

and yet, why does it seem as though we walk through so much of life desensitised to the glory that is inbedded in our gloom, the joy that is present in our sorrow, the opportunities to thrive buried within our struggles to survive?

why is it so difficult for us to hear the miraculous music of creation in the midst of the maddening mayhem of our world and our lives?

some would say that it's because only certain people like Mr. Gould have a God-given gift to perceive things that elude other mere mortals.

others might argue that Mr. Gould 'heard' this 'music' simply because he chose to take the natural sounds around him and turn them into a kind of supernatural 'music' in his mind, and therefore, create a kind of 'meaning' out of random, meaningless sounds.

but i wonder if it isn't so much about having a special kind of aptitude or a creative kind of fortitude, but rather, a spacious kind of attitude.

an approach to our moments and our days where we allow some open space to enter into the claustrophobic clamour and chaos that clutters our calendars and drowns our deeper desires for connection and compassion, transformation and transcendence, passion and Presence, laughter and Love.

a space to breathe...and to discover that with each breath, we are unknowingly singing the name of the One who gave us each breath.

a space to perceive that living within each ordinary moment is an extraordinary Presence.

a space where another sense can emerge from deep within ourselves, and awaken and enlighten our other five senses.

a sixth sense.

the sense of Spirit.

the sense that enables us to see that every bush is aflame with Love, and that earth is truly crammed with heaven.

the sense that embraces and transcends gender and culture, orientation and affiliation, religion and tradition.

the sense that reveals and reflects 'the kingdom of God within you and among you', as one Beloved Son said to all us other Beloved ones.

so...before you race out into your day...before you speed off to your next appointment...before your dive into the daily struggle to survive...




and enter into the space where you can perceive the Presence of the One who is ever-present...where you can experience the glory in the impending gloom, the joy in the midst of the sorrow, the music in the mayhem.

and remember that all you need is all around you.

and right in front of you.

and deep within you.

given freely in love by the One who is far beyond you.

and right in front you.

and deep within you.

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