Sunday, August 07, 2011
Grey day transfigured
There is no heating in church - it is, after all, summer - as I sort out hymnbook and liturgy (thank God - not the Grey Book). There are also no children, as the Rector is on holiday and has taken Mrs Rector who does the Godly play at the back of the church. Apart from some scraping and banging from the rear, later revealed as "sorting the electrics for the coffee", it is relatively quiet as the organ music begins. I recognise the music after the opening, drifting notes: the organist is improvising on a modern/traditional scottish folk tune. It is absolutely, heart-rendingly beautiful.
I am plainly not alone in thinking this. I hear a whisper from somewhere behind me: Ohhh - that's lovely. And a stillness falls on the people, even those who are still arriving. Prayer is suddenly possible, distraction and restlessness quietened by the lilting line, and I am glad I have come. Even when the music enters a dark, sombre place it seems entirely appropriate (I subsequently learn that the organist was distracted by the thundering down the aisle of Someone on A Mission and had to go where a wrong note took him) and the melody emerges, intact and serene, just in time for the final quiet cadence.
I am now in a place where anything can happen; the gloom has been dispelled and the transfiguration is possible. And reflecting on the experience, and the prayers and farewells and greeting of long-missed friends that took place when the Mass was over, I note that we need this variety. We need joy and noise and exuberance, and we need silence and mystery.
And somehow, in the profound silence, there is music at the very heart of things.