Thursday, May 20, 2010

You don't take a high note, you collapse into it

Most people carry within them some hidden talent or passion - something they have not been able to express or practice properly, due to various kinds of circumstances. Because this longing, this unfulfilled gift or dream is often part and parcel of their inner being, the way they really are, they tend to feel restless… until such time as this secret need or longing has at least in some way been met, expressed and fulfilled. For some it can be the romantic longing to act or to dance or to make wild music. For others it can be the more mundane need to set up an own business, something that draws on their special interests and abilities – it could be a bakery, a clothing shop … it could be starting a blog or taking up further studies.

In my own life I related to music I was introduced to by my father and by inspiring teachers. From an early age I was touched by voices singing. I virtually fell in love with opera in my primary school days. In the same way that our children now collect CDs, I collected records; my first ones were wonderful sound tracks of Caruso, Gigli, Bj√∂rling, Merril, Galli-Curci, Sutherland, Callas. And I wanted to sing along…always. The longing to sing did not subside as I grew older. I remember moments when I was listening to live performances of music that by then I knew by heart, how it felt almost unbearable not to be able to just stand up and join in, even take to over the show! I truly felt capable on some occasions to perform even better than the artist himself.

Eventually I actually found an opportunity to respond to my longing to sing some of the really great pieces of music. For two years I took singing lessons and although I realised very quickly that I was not bound to become a second Pavarotti, these lessons became one of my very rewarding life-experiences. I learned many new things: the importance of how you breathe, of posture, of standing and projecting your voice, putting yourself out there without being abashed or self-consciousness. I learnt the art of relaxation. A short sentence, a brief piece of advice from the teacher, will always remain with me: “Remember, you never take a high note, you collapse into it”

I often return to this little remark, because it not only expresses one of the most basic principles of singing very concisely - it also quite tellingingly expresses an aspect of what is essential of a true spiritual way of life. As Christians we believe that we are called to really occupy high planes, to be a the light for the world, a shining star in heaven as Paul puts it in Phil 2:15 - to sing out, to echo songs of the psalmists, giving voice to songs that express human experience: low notes in songs of woe, but also the high notes of joy and jubilation, of praise and compassion to which we are called and need constantly to learn. As believers we also know that we can only reach this goal, can only express our true calling, when we are prepared to let go, to collapse into grace, to allow God to be our rock, our security, and to take us where we need to be, to where God’s dream for and in us is fulfilled. In short: things come together when we are willing to become part of His flow – the flow of the Holy Spirit.

This is a liberating truth and challenge – especially during this time of Pentecost where we believe that the Spirit has been poured out and is already moving within us.

Carel Anthonissen

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