Every Wednesday

Every Wednesday I will post something about grief. Sometimes it will be a reflection on an aspect of grief’s landscape. Now and then I will share from my own journey of grief, because in the sharing of our stories we find strength and build a community of people that support one another.

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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Cantus: the Silence of Grief


In Arvo Part’s Cantus, a piece for orchestra and Russian Orthodox bells, silence is written into the composition. There are periods when no musicians are playing, yet we hear the reverberations of the notes recently played. We hear them even though no one is playing them.

So it is in grief after the death of a loved one. There is a great deal of silence in our lives now, silence at home where we used to hear conversations. Silence in the places they used to sit. Silence when we long to hear the music of their voices. We continue to hear the echoes of these sounds.

In Cantus, and in our grief, we are waiting in silence for something to happen, and we are not waiting because something is happening. We are listening in the space between what we’ve known and what comes next. We are listening to what is not yet here.

The bells in Cantus also bring in the meaning of bells for the Russian Orthodox people — remembrance and honoring of the past, calling them to set aside what they are doing and be attentive to this moment, calling them to be open to the spirit that is present in this moment. Bells have called monks, nuns, and the devout in many religions to be present to what this moment is.

This call to silence is an ancient one. The bells call us to mindfulness of this moment, to listen to something other than ourselves, and listen to the movement of the Spirit among us.

In the silence I hear your voice, and it sounds like bells.



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