Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Singing The Blues Away

The sadness that often comes into our lives is handled by us in many varied and interesting ways.  An example of what one priest did on returning to his monastery is recounted by a columnist in the Catholic Times.

The priest had spent many years overseas doing parish work, and the columnist remembers meeting him on a number of occasions on his return to the monastery. His disposition, the columnist said, was welcoming, disarming, enthusiastic and unpretentious.

That evening after the meal, while  drinking tea and talking with his Korean colleagues,  he decided to go to his room; he returned with a guitar and a book of popular songs from the 70-80s. He suggested a sing-along. There was a period of awkward silence;  the columnist thought it odd: 5 elderly religious being asked to sing...?

The priest, however, opened the book and from the beginning started to sing. If the song was known he would begin playing, if not, he would skip it.  His mastery of the guitar also was not very good. He paid no attention to his playing and went through the book page by page. The group would join in the singing, some looking at the ceiling, one looking out the window, and one with eyes closed--but all were singing. 

Some of the songs were greeted with applause, If a song brought back some memory, this would be mentioned. They all sang with enthusiasm. There were no  comments on the singing.  If they knew the song, they would sing. If not, they would listen. At the  end of the singing, the  priest said to his colleagues:

"Living here in the monastery, there were difficult times. Battling cancer and living overseas have created difficulties in my life, but on those occasions, I would take out the guitar and sing. It was after the singing that I would find peace."

That evening the columnist considered the group as being similar to a picture that is moved from one location to another.  A picture of sadness being removed by song. That night, before sleep, he was thankful that he was part of that picture.

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