Monday, January 07, 2008

Communicating with the Divine

How do they do it? The panpipers on a Sunday, standing on the road alongside the Forum, merely blow into hollow bamboo pipes. That is all. Yet, effortlessly, they create the sights and sounds of the Andes and the Amazon. The magnificent ruins of Rome are transformed into dark green, steamy jungle and dizzying mountain heights. Ancient music, carried on the wind, permeates every nook and cranny, bringing its own loveliness, a loveliness that is beyond anything that the Senate and the Roman People could have ever imagined. It is the sheer beauty of the heights of the condor and the depths of the Amazon basin that makes it such a joy to visit the Forum on a Sunday.

Yet there is also a different music. Switching on the radio in the early morning, I learned of a different musical instrument: the Maori pipe and again, as soon as the first notes issued forth, I was no longer in Rome. There were the boiling mud pools of Rotarua, the crashing waves of the Pacific Ocean, warriors paddling decorative war canoes, women dancing in traditional robes made from feathers. It was magical!

The interview was fascinating. Apparently the Maori pipe was banned by the first missionaries to New Zealand, not understanding the sacred significance of the instrument. They probably also objected to the fact that the pipes were fashioned from human bones!

Today, three men, experimenting with emu bones, have resurrected an instrument that had almost entirely disappeared from its culture. They described whole communities sitting in tears of nostalgia as the men toured the villages, giving back to the Maoris a means whereby their ancestors had been in communication with their ancestors.

Perhaps the most significant part of the whole interview was towards the end when the interviewee described a conversation with a very old man. “When the pipes are blown, it causes my hair to stand on end. When that happens, I know that I am in the presence of the Ancestors. It is sacred.” The instrument was nothing more and nothing less than a means of going beyond the immediate and thereby communicating with the Divine.

How do I find God in my life? Am I touched by music or by nature? Does God speak to me in the sunlight or in silence? How does he touch my heart? If a Maori could know the presence of God by feeling his hair stand on end, in what way does God let me know that he is there? Is he carried on the breeze, or in laughter?

Somebody sent me the following in an e-mail:
I asked God for water, He gave me an ocean.

I asked God for a flower, He gave me a garden.
I asked God for a friend, He gave me all of YOU...

If God brings you to it, He will bring you through it.
Happy moments, praise God.
Difficult moments, seek God.
Quiet moments, worship God.
Painful moments, trust God.
Every moment, thank God.

God bless,
Sr. Janet