Sunday, April 14, 2013

thirst



There I sat on the front desk. The sea of closed eyes rippled before me as I dropped a pebble of my life into the stillness. Whether my classmates knew it or not, I was inviting them to swim in a part of my world. You know, the personal part. 

I took a deep breath and pressed play. Instantly, the haunting melody began. No, not my greatest hits collection or the latest radio jam. Sacred music—the kind that touches the soul, brushes the cloak of God, causes the heart to dance.

The windows were open and the afternoon sun poured in patterns across different faces.  My peers sat in reflective silence as foreign languages sang to them of God. Many had a lot on their mind, many might not understand, many might not care. But when asked the week earlier who wanted to lead the next meditation, my hand shot up before my brain could tell it otherwise. So there I was at the front of the classroom—a place I’ve dreaded for years—sharing something of untold value to me and guiding my Life Writing class in a fifteen minute meditation. It was their first time hearing music from the Taize community.

My first time had occurred not so long before.  I remember I sat in sweaty splendor on the floor of a church in Spain among hundreds of other young people, the sticky summer heat hovering around us. Lights were extinguished. Candles flickered. The music began. German, English, Latin, French, Spanish, Italian. We all started singing. Afterwards, I was never quite the same.

I was like a child stepping into a blossoming garden. Each song was a different flower. Each tune had an allure all its own. I moved within this new world gently, wanting to cultivate each thing I found.

The fragrance of the same music now transports me across the Atlantic to the French countryside, to the Taize community itself. Once again, I sat with hundreds of young people from around the world, only a year had passed. I didn’t just go to one service, but over two dozen. And I sang. I sang loudly and deeply and freely. As St. Augustine says, I sang as wayfarers do. I sang on the journey. I sang and keep singing.

In those months, I was particularly ravenous, my thirst insatiable. It was like I woke up and realized how thirsty I was, how long I’d  been running without stopping for a drink. This music, for me, was water. Maybe not the full cup, but drops in it. Drops so refreshing that all my inhibitions seemed to evaporate. All I wanted to do was share it, to refill cups, and hold them out to the thirsty. Countless people had done this for me. Now, it was my turn.
 
You who are beyond all things, 
what mind can grasp you? 
All that lives celebrates you;
the desire of all reaches out towards you. 

Taizé : Ô toi l'au-delà de tout