composers, poets, and soul-scape

It has felt like I live in Florida again for the last several days, which has been a good thing.  I remember reading that the desert fathers, the early Christian monastics, valued light for spiritual reasons.  That they lived in a world of literal darkness unaided by billions of light bulbs and screens.  That the rising of the sun was the very real and fulfilled promise of a new day by the great force that holds the cosmos together. I hold that image dear.  Three thoughts on this Sunday afternoon, as has become customary.

1.  Over the last several days, I've taken in a remarkable interview of composer Mohammed Fairouz.  The interview opened with the haunting words of John F. Kennedy's 1963 speech at Amherst College, given in connection with the groundbreaking of the Robert Frost Library:

When power leads man towards arrogance, poetry reminds him of his limitations. When power narrows the areas of man's concern, poetry reminds him of the richness and diversity of his existence. When power corrupts, poetry cleanses. For art establishes the basic human truths which must serve as the touchstone of our judgment.

These words have come to me on the heels of immersion in Thomas Merton's commentary to novitiates at Gethsemane on the role of the poet in modern society.  He opined that the poet opens the door to the mystical, a role previously reserved in many ways for the monk. I wonder now, fifty years later, if the poet is heard?  Fairouz made the true statement that the artist opens up and grants us access to timeless sacred spaces.  Do we seek those spaces?

2.  I had the pleasure of the company of a good friend from Montgomery this weekend.  We were talking over all of the many things we've experienced together in the last twenty years.  I am ever aware that our soul mates allow us, require us, demand of us - that we move through the valleys and mountaintops with relentless love, enthusiasm, and proper orientation. What a grace that is.

3.  I've been thinking of the concept of the "soul-scape," the very real landscape of the soul.  What great maps the poet and the composer give us for these valleys and rivers.  Terrain completely open and unending. Even in the midst of the very ordinary.


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