Monday, February 25, 2008

like praying twice







"Singing is like praying twice"
Saint Augustine




There is an ethereal feeling which emanates from our hearts, outward through our limbs when surrounded by a chorus of people singing together. Can you feel the chills as you remember the last time you found yourself ensconced in a river of uplifting voices? Certain hymns resonate with me as they strike a chord where my emotions seem to sit waiting to be plucked, as I'm sure they do for you. Though it doesn't have to be in a formal place of worship, these are the moments which filter into my thinking today.


Any concert, any congregation of people who are harmonizing in a moment of song has the potential of reaching the same prayer-full plateau. Even singing the national anthem together at the beginning of a sports event, or when it is played during the medal ceremonies of an Olympics can resonate in a similar tonal feeling. I'll never forget an Italian team on the podium after winning a gold medal in their home country, singing with such joyful passion together with an outdoor piazza filled with family, friends and countrymen and women singing along with them. The men were arm and arm...........they couldn't smile more broadly as they belted out the meaningful words and well known tune on their tip toes ...... STRETCHING up into the night air ........ soaring in unision.


Praying twice......praying in abundant joy.......singing in unison


I wonder if one could use the same analogy when considering the connection with another through a conversation? Not any normal conversation mind you, but one where two people, or perhaps three or four or more.......... reach a plateau beyond the everyday chattering of shared facts and opinions. Is there a point where the level of communication between human beings could be like praying twice?

Last week, I had lunch with a woman who I am just beginning to get to know. The moment I met her last fall at a workshop planning meeting, I saw sparks in her that were familiar in a way that pulled me into wanting her in my life. As I later watched her facilitate the workshop, I saw for the first time someone up in front of a group of people who had such similarities in her manner and approach to my own that it floored me. It was like I was given a chance to be an active observer of how others respond to my own teaching techniques. It completely intrigued me as I watched her "perform".........saw what worked best, what others reacted to and how they did......... saw the flow of her manner. During a break, I asked her if I could take her out for lunch to delve into it more and to ask her for some guidance on making a move possibly into the world of consulting. Lunch was finally arranged..........last Friday. Neither of us lifted our heads up while sitting in the restaurant for over an hour. In fact, we were so into our conversation that neither of us realized that we hadn't been served our meals yet! The place was a buzzing beehive of activity, filling up while we slipped into a place where the words and stories and sharing came tumbling out............in the zone.....

Two people unaware of the surroundings, but completely focused with a heightened awareness of eachother.
Tune the world out, focus the world in...

When we are able to sing from our hearts, when we are able to talk from the same place, when we are able to listen intently, we feed off each other's heightened energy. What is stripped away is a sense of time, an ego driven sense of self. Rather it is transformed into a place driven by our essence....our spirit. Facts and opinions don't live there. They live in our ego centre alongside our sense of bravado..... our desire to be right..... in control.

This is what I think...

This is what I believe is right.

Instead......

When communication between two people transcends this, and leads to a "heart to heart" talk, we soften. We soften our sharp edged opinions and the needs to be right and heard and rigid. We soften to bare ourselves and to provide a trusting featherdown landing place for another to do the same. When we move from two egos talking to two hearts conversing, an unconditional holy space is discovered. Heightened awareness, respect, empathy........a true transference of vulnerability felt in prayer.

Whether it's in a restaurant, around a campfire, in your living room, late at night sipping something smooth.... whether its over coffee, a pot of tea, on a bench in the park, it can happen anytime, anywhere...........and it feels like praying twice.

12 comments:

kenju said...

I've never heard that quote before but I really believe it! Singing together is one of the best things about church.

Darrin said...

I see a beautiful sunset and I thank God for the beautiful picture He's painted me.

I hear beautiful music and I thank God for the talent he has blessed some of my fellow human beings with.

Awareness said...

Judy....it's one of my favourite times in church as well...or anywhere when others are singing together.

Darrin....there is a song on the Cold Mountain soundtrack that is so powerful it blows me away everytime I hear it....all voices which start off slowly and softy and build into this amazing crescendo. I love playing it loudly in the car when i'm on my own. have you heard it before.....

Kamsin said...

There is something amazingly powerful about voices singing their hearts out together and getting lost in the music. I'm not sure if it is possible to reach the same level of connection in conversation. Too many barriers to get to which for me, mainly language I guess. Which is perhaps why I love singing, the music and harmony speaks to a place beyond words. But perhaps we all have slightly different modes of communicating who we are and connecting with others and maybe conversation isn't my primary one.
Thought provoking post, as usual!

Awareness said...

Kamsin....I'm grappling with the question too....if it does happen, it is rare. During Freudian analysis, the key was to get to a point where the analyst and client reach a plain where there is transference of thought and words. That's one of the reasons why someone remained in analysis for such a long time to reach this "pinnacle."

Aside from a therapeutic environment, in real life, I agree with you, there are so many variables and obstacles which can impact the environment. It's like there has to be a "perfect storm" or something for it to happen. My example in my post.....I think we had moments of this, but definately didn't remain in that zone.

I guess I see it as something which more naturally happens during a quiet late night talk when all the world seems to be sleeping......when two people are the most relaxed etc, etc....

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

Beautiful post...And I know what you are writing about. When that happens with another person, or two or three (If you are lucky) it is quite extraordnary. Time doesn't exist....the "harmony" that takes place is amazing and transcends everything, doesn't it?....I couldn't help but think of that line from the song "Maria" from WEST SIDE STORY....
"....say it soft, and it's almost like praying...."
Music seems to transcend everything...it transports people to a place that almost cannot be described...And sometimes a whole audience is transported like that and it passes all understanding.
And to have that feeling is just fantastic!

anthonynorth said...

An interesting post. One can certainly feel the togetherness through song, especially done in a cultural setting with which you are at peace.
To be achieved with conversation is a much more difficult thing. I wonder if what is happening is a form of validation of our own wishes and feelings? Do we feel as 'one' with those who share what we are?

The Harbour of Ourselves said...

a place of belonging where sunlight streams, where we meet in a land of hope and dreams. In short it became a hymn to perseverance:

Grab your ticket and your suitcase, thunder’s rolling down the tracks
You don’t know where you’re going, but you know you won’t be back
Well, darlin’, if you’re weary, lay your head upon my chest
We’ll take what we can carry and leave behind the rest

Big wheels roll through fields where sunlight streams
Meet me in a land of hope and dreams

Well, I will provide for you and I’ll stand by your side
You’ll need a good companion, for this part of the ride
You’ll leave behind your sorrows, and let this day be the last
Tomorrow there’ll be sunshine, and all this darkness past


hope the journey is full of wonder......

Awareness said...

Naomi.....that's a wonderful quote. I now want to see the movie again..... i was thinking that softness plays a big role in finding this with another.
I remember a friend describing her first experience at a Stone's concert not too long ago. She found herself in the front surrounded by a sea of concert goers and was swooped up by the experience. When she described it to me in my office the day after, she related it to a religious experience......she was in awe of the feeling of being transported beyond anything she had ever experienced before..... though I think perhaps the wacky tobacky in the air may have helped as well! :)

Tony.....i hadn't thought of it in those terms but I think you're right on. It is a validation on many levels........ whether it is through music or discourse..... interesting thought. i like it.

Awareness said...

paul...welcome back friend and thank you for leaving this beautiful visual invitation....one i think we all want to hear.

a validation of caring.....is this Springsteen?

our journeys are so much more FUN and full of wonder when it is shared with another. it's easier to meet in the land of hopes and dreams when someone is helping to show the way...

if i close my eyes.....i see a train rumbling along a track with me in it.....heading to an unknown yet exciting destination....

oh! i think i just passed by you smiling and waving!

Gypsy said...

I love it when a huge crowd sings the National Anthem together. It always makes my heart swell and tears spring to my eyes. I'm a sucker for a good sporting event when there is already a real buzz in the air. I know this is slightly off topic for what you were talking about but this is what sprang to my mind.

In regards to you and your lunch companion. I just love it when you meet someone who is so much like you there is almost no need for words.

Awareness said...

Gypsy......I was thinking of the same thing when I was writing it! I love singing the national anthem at a sporting event....especially if it's an important game. The Olympics are do me in......when Canada won the Gold medal in hockey in Utah, our house was filled with a party of people who had watched the game together. When the medal ceremony came on, there wasn't a dry eye in the place!