WORD Becoming, Spiritual Reflections By Fr Roderick Salazar Jr, SVD (Philippines)
It is by God’s grace that we can speak
and converse with one another
through varied means especially in this our time.
It may be our disgrace that while
we often talk to ourselves and to one another
we do not relate to God as often,
as much, as deeply, as regularly.
We need to.
We also need to remember that while God
always listens to us, we do not listen to Him.
He speaks in words – His Word in the Bible,
the words of people around us.
He speaks in the events of our lives.
He speaks in silence.
Today, His day, may we listen to His Word.
And also take time to BE STILL
And know that HE IS GOD.
A couple of stories today
from William Bausch’s book
World of Stories.
A snippet of a poem we add.
1. A SYMPHONY
Franz Schubert’s Unfinished Symphony
has a little story attached to it.
He left a huge amount of music,
He had many students as well,
each ambitious and eager to learn from the Master.
When Franz died, his brother gathered all his work
into a safe place but cut up the final manuscript
and sent pieces to his students.
Months later, the brother suggested that the students
return to him what they had received
so that pieced together again,
Franz’s work would be complete.
All the students complied, except for one
who thought that the missing piece would
be very valuable some day.
The brother organized a concert of Schubert’s work
with the special feature of the Unfinished Symphony
which had never been played before.
On the night of the performance the music was presented.
In the place where the unreturned missing piece
was supposed to have been played,
the musicians stopped their instruments
and just stayed silent.
THIRTY-TWO BARS OF SILENCE.
At the end of the concert, his brother announced:
“Tonight, you listened to one of Franz’s final gift to the world.
The music we heard has soothed us with the reminder
of his subtle presence here.
But it has also given us something more.
There is no way to fill the hole in the world
now that he has gone,
There is no way to escape the silence,
that rest which punctuated this performance.
The quality of that silence,
the remembrance of our own incompleteness:
this is what compels us to come together again and again,
so that the music will be completed by our common silence,
and someday, there will be nothing missing.
Only then will our collective work be fully performed.”
It is told that even though Franz Schubert’s students
had shown such rivalry and animosity toward one another
in the past, that night many of them embraced
before they left the stage.
They say that the music of that night has often been repeated.
But the silence has never sounded quite the same.
REST BREATHE REST SILENCE. QUIET. CALM.
2. AN OPERA
A similar thing happened to a work by Italian composer
Giacomo Puccini, famous for operas like Tosca, Madame Butterfly,
La Boheme, and Turandot (where the famous aria
Nessum Dorma [Let No One Sleep] is sung)
It has its own twist, however.
At a young age, Puccini contracted cancer.
He worked hard to finish his final opera, Turandot.
Though friends told him to take regular rest
he worked vigorously saying,
“I’m going to do as much as I can on my masterwork,
and it’s up to you my friends to finish it.”
Puccini died. Turandot unfinished.
In 1926, at the La Scala Opera House in Milan,
Puccini’s final piece was played,
with Arturo Toscanini conducting.
When it came to the part where the master
had stopped working because he died,
Then he turned around to the audience,
his eyes welling up with tears and said,
“This is where the master ends.”
And he wept.
After a few moments, he lifted his head,
smiled broadly, and said,
“And this is where his friends began…”
Then he finished conducting the opera.
(I’ll wait till you’re back with your drink.}
Oh, you did not leave? Ok, so we resume
3. A POEM
Some years ago, poet A.R. Ammons wrote a poem
called Risks and Possibilities,
some parts of which are these lines:
how can i
tell you what I have not said; you must look for it
side has weight, too, though words cannot bear it
out. Listen for the things I have left out.
of them, as you must be, or you will miss
in my singing.
A Story with Different Endings
(From a 1988 Book by Francis Dorff,
THE ART OF PASSING OVER:
An Invitation to Living Creatively.)
A little boy asked a Rabbi:
“Why does God no longer speak to His people?
He spoke so BEAUTIFULLY to Abraham.
He spoke with such POWER to Moses.
He spoke so CLEARLY to Jeremiah and the prophets.
Rabbi, why does God no longer speak to His people?”
The Rabbi shook his head as though he was in pain.
“My son, it is not that God no longer speaks to His people.
IT IS THAT NO ONE THESE DAYS CAN STOOP DOWN
LOW ENOUGH TO LISTEN..
No one can stoop down low enough to listen.
To experience the silence of God is to receive an invitation
to stoop down lower than we have ever stooped before.
We put our ear not merely to the ground
as American Indians used to do, but to the ground of our being.
WE RECEIVE AN INVITATION TO LISTEN WITH ALL OUR HEART
FOR WHAT ONLY OUR HEARTS CAN HEAR.
Listen intently not just to the Bible, but also to the teachings
of a believing community, the Church, to those of like mind,
listen to life, to all of life.
The silence of God can teach us to listen
and learn that God speaks
wherever, whenever, however and to whomever
CHANGED ENDING ONE:
It is not that God no longer speaks to His people.
It is just that SILENCE is God’s favorite language.
Now He is letting all of life speak for Him….
BUT NO ONE STOOPS DOWN LOW ENOUGH TO LISTEN.
CHANGED ENDING TWO:
It is not that God no longer speaks to His people.
IT IS THAT GOD IS LISTENING TO HIS PEOPLE NOW.
AND WHAT DO HIS PEOPLE HAVE TO SAY TO HIM?
What about me? What do I say?
What do I hear?
It is the LORD’s DAY.
I enter the quiet,
come into HIS PRESENCE.