Saturday, June 15, 2013
This morning I passed by Immaculate Conception on my way back from the local herbal shop, and the faint tones of the organ grasped onto the center of my heart, pulling it up through the crown of my head, into another plane. I paused and turned back towards the large wood-panaled doors. They looked closed, and why should they be open on a Saturday morning? I turned around again and began walking home, but another chord, just barely finding its way out of a cracked window in the sanctuary curled its delicate fingers around my inner being, pulling me back.
Again, I turned around and climbed the staircase looming before the door. It opened easily when I pulled, revealing an empty sanctuary with tinted light streaming through stained-glass windows, so well-kept, I felt as though its caregivers were extending their arms towards me, an invitation to worship. I wandered towards the front of the church so that I could look back into the organ's balcony. I didn't see a soul and, when I heard the sounds of chimes and opera singing accompanying the organ, I felt duped to think that some CD and a big speaker had lured me into a Catholic church.
Still I could not leave. I knelt before a pew in the back row. Prayers and tears flowed through me and mixed with the gentle organ tones in the expanse of empty space above. One song flowed into the next. After the third ended, there was a pause. The CD must be over, and God forbid, someone comes to change it and I have to explain myself. I stood up and heard a slight shifting above me. The faintest rustle of papers. I wandered again to the front of the sanctuary, this time at a different angle, and saw the back of a woman's head. She began to play, and when the angelic singing began once again, I noticed her jaw moving ever so slightly.
I returned to the pew and listened to the song before wandering back into the sunshine. Perhaps she will never know that her music was heard by another soul this Saturday morning. I thank her for the blessings carried in her music and pray that my own random acts of music--out at the lighthouse at night, in my yard, at local restaurants, or at the beach, may bring half that much joy to someone else.
Tuesday, April 9, 2013
Saturday, February 9, 2013
Playing fiddle has come with a new way of life that puts me in this state all the time--without ever needing to physically go very far. In part, it is the joy of playing music in community that gives the feeling of being as acutely alive as when one travels. It is also the people one meets, and the adventures that one embarks on for the sake of playing music in community.
When Nemo struck yesterday, and Governor Patrick banned transportation, I set out with skis, headlamp, and an Adirondack pack basket containing fiddle, bread, and cheese, for a house session with friends in Beverly. Over the course of the 2.7 mile trek I crossed paths with old friends, shared moral support with a new Nigerian friend as we crossed the Beverly bridge together, and dodged many snowplows, while my fiddle somehow stayed in tune. On one dark Beverly side street, I could make out a lone figure shoveling through the falling snow. "Hi Miss Quayle," I heard the familiar voice of one of my students say. He gave me a knowing grin from under the bright orange hood of his parka: "I saw the fiddle and knew it must be you."
At the session, we shared Indian food, plum gin, and many Irish tunes. The wind rocketed me back across the Beverly bridge at about 11:00 pm, and the waves crashed about 3 feet from my skis on the Collins Cove bike path.
Just an hour ago, my younger cousin posted a photo of her plane about to depart for Bolivia. I remember those days fondly, but for now, I think I'll just travel at home with my fiddle.
Saturday, December 8, 2012
Wednesday, February 8, 2012
I live as the happy fiddler and tend to remember and tell stories about all of the joy that I find myself immersed in as a novice fiddler. I would normally sit down today to write about my recent joyful adventures: the finale of Northern Roots in Brattleboro, where a fiddle concert ended with a curtain opening to reveal forty fiddlers of all ages beaming with joy as they played “My Cape Breton Home”; or the No-Superbowl potluck jam I attended at my neighbors’ home, where the evening ended with repeating “Coleman’s March” until it became more like a prayer than playing a tune.
But today I am going to go off the grid.
For the first time in months, perhaps since I acquired my fiddle seven months ago, I did not play any tunes all day. I did not even open the case. Furthermore, for a few moments, I allowed myself to not be happy. I allowed a deep, satisfying sort of melancholia to creep through my whole body, to the point that even my limbs, which are endlessly walking, running, hiking, and fidgeting, got so tired, I could do nothing but spread out across the couch for hours--a rare phenomenon in my world. I sank deep within myself, began to breathe more easily, and embraced all of the love and joy resting in my soul, but also the sadness and pain.
I tend to be joyful and move so vigorously through life that I don’t notice that I, like everyone else, may hold sadness and pain. A wise and beloved friend recently suggested that perhaps I avoid facing the challenging situations and inner fears that we need to face in order to grow. I tend to see it more in this light: I seek out joyful people and situations, so that I can foster positive energy within myself and share that light with the world. But I have taken my friend’s point to heart and have been wondering where the line lies between seeking joy and avoiding growth. Tomorrow I may return to both fiddle and joy with renewed vigor, but tonight, plunging the depths has been delicious.
Monday, January 16, 2012
Seven folks gathered in my living room and the jam went on as usual. The instruments ranged from mandolin to stand up bass, which we somehow squeezed between my piano and coffee table, and the snacks ranged from stale animal crackers to caramel popcorn. Sadly, I realize that others did not see the note on Howling Wolf's door or could not find my home and I feel terrible for the inconvenience.
Now, I enjoy journaling and from time to time. Sometimes I read over my old entries and am always intrigued to see what I wrote in years gone by. Recently I read something that I wrote four years ago, when I had just moved to Salem. I had tried some sort of cheesy exercise where you are supposed to imagine things that you wish you had in your life, no matter how outlandish they seem, and list them freely. Just writing about them, the author had assured, is the first step to manifesting your dreams. Right. The hidden dream that revealed itself upon my page that day was a vision of a room full of all sorts of acoustic instruments, knowing how to play them, and having tons of people to playing with me. At the time I played classical piano and had no plans to pick up another instrument or learn traditional folk music.
So thank you members of Salem Old Time Jam, and thank you to the Howling Wolf managers for planning renovations without informing us, for a lesson in flexibility and for filling my home with all sorts of acoustic instruments and the beautiful people to play them.