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. To follow, please leave your email address.

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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 they are gone.

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, music, and the sounds of another person moving about. Silence in the places they used to be. Silence when we long to hear the music of their voices. And we continue to hear the echoes of these sounds.

In Cantus and in our grief we are waiting in silence, and we are not waiting, for something to happen, but 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 Russian Orthodox people — remembrance and honoring of the past, calling to set what we are doing aside and be attentive to this moment, and calling us 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 this moment.

This call to silence is an ancient one, this call to listen to something other than ourselves, to listen to the movement of the Spirit.

The bells call us to mindfulness of this moment, to the movement of the Spirit among us, to the presence of love.

I see you, and I hear your voice.



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