Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Catholic Hermit: Musicians and Hermits

Shared for your listening pleasure is a slightly different musical rendering of the late George Matheson's hymn, "O Love That Will Not Let Me Go."  

The thought came (probably this an insight from God, not an idea of my own mind) that hermits musicians share some similarities with hermits...and also some differences.

The similarities are that music is a meditative and higher-level action of mind, heart, and spirit.  So, too, ought be the prayers and meditations of a hermit.  Music--the composition itself--is actually a higher contemplation than are the words; yet poetry is a higher function than prose for it requires higher level thinking skills to the point of creative inter-lapse.

So, too, are the levels of prayer through phases of verbal, mental, affective, contemplative--and in the contemplative are illuminative flowing into mystical union.

Another aspect of hermits and musicians (and all types of creative and functional arts including carpentry, plumbing, teaching, marketing, governing) with shared commonality is that they each within their "type-sets" and "vocations" have unique variabilities.  They may be song writers or hermits, but they have a wide variance in how they perceive and fulfill their vocations.  

A song writer  and/or composer may write hymns or R&B, country, pop, heavy metal, symphonies, folk music.  A hermit may be more or less hidden from the eyes of men, in varying degrees of stricter separation from the world, living in a physical desert or urban desert, recognizable by means of habit and title or  not at all, blending in to whatever environment.  A musician may be well along in his or her artistry, gifted or well-practiced in the art form; a hermit may also be well along in his or her living out a rule of life that may vary from other hermits, or well-formed in prayer life or handling spiritual experiences.

However, the interpretation of their "arts", so to speak, always vary between individual musicians and hermits regardless of general external or internal commonalities.

One aspect that is not so noticed among musicians, especially when "covering" a song written by another--they don't seem to criticize their fellow musicians in the way the same song may be performed. In fact, from watching numerous interviews of singers and songwriters, they appreciate, compliment, and sometimes go as far as to ask to incorporate or imitate some aspect that one musician has utilized that another musician considers an improvement over his or her own rendition.

When musicians do tend to fuss with one another, it can be over copyright laws, love interests, or over royalties.

But hermits (perhaps true of those practicing religious vows or expanding thoughts on theological principles) can become critical of those who live their vows, their hermit lives, slightly differently than other hermits.  There seems to be a vocational envy that some hermits develop toward other hermits (and this can be true of theologians, too!).

I suppose, as with musicians, hermits who simply strive in their "art" of praying and praising God, in their ongoing struggles to seek Him in the silence of solitude, and who grasp that the process is on-going with unexpected variables and pitfalls--the ones who remain more focused on their "vocational art" which is like a composer, at a higher or deeper level of expression than even the hermit often grasps, tend to not be so interested in noticing what other hermits are or are not "doing".

It seems a good thing to get to know other hermits, particularly so if they are deceased and their lives have been lived out to conclusion as hermits.  It is lovely if they or others documented their progression in the spiritual life as well as their process in living out the eremitic vocation.  

Maybe hermits ought consider our vocation as an art form.  That might help us seek those hermits who we find inspiring and helpful, sharing some of our same circumstances.  Also, by reading about these various hermits, we can learn to appreciate their spiritual evolvement.  We also may be introduced to new "hermit forms."  That is, a variety of hermit expression, process, energy, and style.

It is often said that those who can appreciate a variety of art forms has an advantage in appreciation of life itself.

Musicians who are interested in what the competition is about, rather than focusing on the expression of their own art form for the sheer love of music and performing that music, and in sharing their artistry with others--these musicians are similar to hermits who keep track of other hermits' thoughts and progression more than or as much as they keep their eyes within their cells, their souls, and upon His Real Presence.

I found it absolutely uplifting that later in their lives, five rock musicians came together to form a band and write music together, when earlier in their careers they had their own bands or were solo artists.  I came upon "The Traveling Willburys"--the late George Harrison, the late Roy Orbison, Tom Petty, Bob Dylan, and Jeff Lynne.  Some readers may know each of these musicians; I only had heard of two--the former Beatle (Harrison) and the folk singer (Dylan).  Oddly, I have not in my five previous decades had interest in listening to much music, especially not rock or pop.  

But music lately has been helpful in helping with bodily pain management, but also in my spiritual life as I've considered this form of communicating with and without words, with sounds as well as in studying (and appreciating) the musicians' life histories.  In each case, I have been struck by the positive, affective mutual support and appreciative collaboration between musicians regardless their varying styles and levels of commercial success. 

These thoughts came as I listened to this slightly different rendition of "O Love That Will Not Let Me Go."  Watching interviews with vocal performers and song writers and musicians helped flesh out the thoughts of similarities between hermits and musicians--and then the one aspect that seems to stick out as a bit different.  (And again, the criticizing seems to also occur among theologians even within their own religious rites and denominations.  They do tend to debate their often unyielding  views!)  

Perhaps there is a difference between those with religious pursuits having stronger opinions and set forms and being sometimes more living "under the law" as opposed to musicians who may live, without always recognizing it, more "by the Spirit."  Music does not seem to have the stringency to it; there is an acceptance and delight in progression and variety.  

Maybe what I'm trying to express has to do with the difference between angels and mortals, a bit....

Regardless, please do enjoy this young man's expression of the same hymn that I posted the other day, which included different instrumentation and female vocalist, and slightly different word arrangement at the conclusion.

No comments: