Saturday, May 3, 2014

grow to greet the morning

When a think is wick, it has a light around it. 
Maybe not a light that you can see. 
But hiding down below a spark's asleep inside it, 
Waiting for the right time to be seen.
--"Wick," The Secret Garden

I love getting a piece of music stuck in my head.
By a "piece" of music, I usually mean one phrase. Which I sing ad nauseum, without being bothered to try to learn any of the other words or verses.
This is usually annoying if I sing them around other people.
I forget that other people do not usually want to hear the phrase: "spring, I sayyyyyy" belted out at top-of-my-lungs volume on repeat one.
So usually, I either resort to humming, or I go on a bike ride.
But I enjoy having these phrases stuck in my head, because they become connected to all sorts of peoples, places, and specific memories.
There is a corner of campus that will always sound like Regina Spektor's Ne Me Quitte Pas, and I mean, at the end of the day, that's sort of wonderful, isn't it? That music can become so embedded in a particular physical location.
Fun's Stars will always remind me of adoration in Motherhouse in Kolkata, because I would sing the first few lines of that song over and over inside my head. A rather avant-garde mode of lectio divina, but I think by now God has learned to sort of make do with whatever He gets from me; usually some sort of botched jumble of inexpressible mumblings that I try to pass off as prayer.
And Ingrid Michaelson's The Chain will always and forever remind me of Boston and Newport, and a beautiful Supreme gold minivan that once was our faithful bark as we traversed New England.

I rediscovered the musical The Secret Garden, and as I puttered around my kitchen, singing "when a thing is wick, and someone cares about ittttttt" and I had a startling shock of déjà vu, as I realized that I had been in my kitchen at home hundreds of times singing this exact phrase.
It is exciting to rediscover old habits, old ways of being that you had shed, but now you take up again.
It is surprising, nostalgic and exhilarating.

Hold on to me as we go
As we roll down this unfamiliar road
--Phillip Phillips, Home

From the first swell of the familiar overture, I teared up as the curtain rose up to reveal the first moments of Les Miserables, that story that every musical theatre nerd has been inculcated with from their very first moments in the theatre.
My jaw dropped as I listened to Valjean singing
"take and eye for an eye
turn your heart into stone
this is all I have lived for
this is all I have known"
I felt my heart drop inside of me, and the raw power of those words tore at the vibrant air of the theatre.
Despite the hundreds of times I had listened to that prologue, I felt as though I was watching the story take place for the very first time.
Les Miserables, I realized when watching all these familiar characters sing their familiar ballads, but with a brand-new veneer of novelty and discovery, has something unabashedly grand about it. It is telling a story about war and sin and grace and redemption and the sort of love that we are usually very diffident about.
The sort of love that if you love another person with it, you will see the face of God.
I felt tears fall from my eyes as I watched Valjean (as he has done ever since he first started singing on the West End 25 plus years ago, and will do until musical theatre as we know it is no more) wrestle with the darkness inside of him, in the world all around him, and yet hold onto this one small saving strand of grace in the ocean of despair all around him. And I watched with an amazed awe that we usually associate with novelty, and Seeing Things for the First Time.
I don't know why we're obsessed with novelty and originality, when all the best stories have to be seen or read many times before you can truly see them with that appropriate awe that comes with Really Truly Seeing something.

And once you Really Truly See something, it's worth repeating over and over again. Because now that the novelty has worn off, there is no fear of your beloved story or your favorite piece of music, or that one masterful line of poetry ever growing old.

And every child should know the lonely 
distant sound of late night travel
when bad dreams have kept them awake
wondering where they come from, what 
they bring or take, and where when it's all 
done they might return and call home.
 --Rails, Scott Owens

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