Wednesday, 6 July 2011

My daily meditation

Oh, how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day. – Psalm 119v97

RTE Radio One has a little morning though called ‘The Word for Today.’ Years ago it was intended to be a morning devotional thought which was aired shortly after the broadcast day started at 6.30 in the morning.
Yesterday morning a chap was on talking about the importance of quiet reflection. As an illustration he used a composition by John Cage. In 1952 Cage produced a piece called 4’33”. This interesting piece is made up of three movements. It is written for any instrumentalists or for an orchestra. The instructions are quiet simple. The performer or performers are simply to not play their instruments in the first, second, or third movement. Yes, that is correct. 4’33” consist of four minutes and thirty three seconds of musical silence.

Cage’s point was that the audience should experience and contemplate on the ambient sounds of silence. He considered this piece pure music because neither composer nor performer could impact the music by their personal choices.

Personally I think that is, how will I put this, a bit wacky. How can you call four minutes and thirty three seconds of silence ‘music’?

But, leaving that aside, and leaving the chap doing ‘The Word for Today’ aside I think there is a point here.
I am one of those people who have a hard time with silence. After raising six kids, working with children and teens all of our lives, and now with grandchildren close by silence has never been a part of my life. It can make me uneasy. I would probably go nuts if I sat through a performance of 4’33”.
Sadly, we can all allow our lives to get so crowded out by the ‘noise’ of daily living that we can forget the important things. Meditation and reflection are almost lost arts. If we are not careful we let New Age philosophers and Eastern mystics influence the necessity of meditation.

Maybe it is a western problem. David was from the East and he knew the importance – ‘O how I love your law – it is my meditation all the day.’

‘All day long’ David wrote. Are our minds constantly in a state where we can pause and reflect and contemplate the word of God at any time? Do we even have a 4’33” that we can dedicate to meditating on the word of God?

Have we lost the fine art of true meditation? 

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