A memory of Kreisler once:
At some recital in this same city,
The seats all taken, I found myself pushed
On to the stage with a few others,
So near that I could see the toil
Of his face muscles, a pulse like a moth
Fluttering under the fine skin,
And the indelible veins of his smooth brow.
I could see, too, the twitching of the fingers,
Caught temporarily in art’s neurosis,
As we sat there or warmly applauded
This player who so beautifully suffered
For each of us upon his instrument.
So it must have been on Calvary
In the fiercer light of the thorns’ halo:
The men standing by and that one figure,
The hands bleeding, the mind bruised but calm,
Making such music as lives still.
And no one daring to interrupt
Because it was himself that he played
And closer than all of them the God listened.
~ R.S. Thomas
This poem first came my way via a Jesuit friend and spiritual director, who sent it to me during some of my darkest days. (This morning it appears here.) He's in town this week, celebrating the Triduum masses at the Carmelite monastery, and that's where I went last night.
Note to self: The first year, I made it halfway through an Easter vigil service and left. Resurrection seemed far too improbable, and real life in the face of that improbability was too painful to contemplate. Last year, doing my field education, I survived several services over the course of the week-end in a state of numbness. No idea what I was doing there, until that note a few months later from another mother with a son lost to suicide, telling me that she was helped by the knowledge that my experience of the holidays over the course of the year paralleled hers. Last night: a homily on memory, reverence, and service. I am, finally, open to all of them, and to the Love at their source. It seems that perhaps God listens most intently to each of us when our music is that of anguish.