Song & Silence

Entering Into Prayer

Created by Gunilla Norris and Frank Pendola

The Blessing in Chant

It is a great blessing to have a tool that is as close as our breathing, a tool we can use in times of challenge and enjoy in times of gladness. Having a centering chant that is close to our hearts and has a ready place in our awareness is a tool of immense value. It can bring us to a heart-centered place where we cease making strangers of ourselves. As humans we often create circles of estrangement. We divide the world into us and them, keeping ourselves well away from anything that for us is different and therefore threatening. When we do this we not only make strangers of others but inexorably we make strangers of ourselves. Everything that is is life now and belongs to life. Saying that something should not be or must not be, even dreadful things, separates us from the depth and mystery of existence and the gift of life that God has given us.

To be truly human we must admit it all or be condemned to be strangers. This, of course, does not mean we should suspend common sense. But it means deep acceptance and acknowledgment (I do not mean approval here), of both terror, and beauty, of nastiness and hunger, of grace and bereavement, of hatred and love. Being inclusive this way disturbs our ego-minds. We want to be safe, look good and stay in control. We want to be undisturbed.

All of us know this well. It is almost automatic in us and that means we lose what is human about us to something mechanical. We live from deep-seated habits, without conscious choice rather than living out of blessing.

There is a wisdom saying that it takes a thorn to get rid of a thorn. It takes a blessing-habit to interrupt our automatic habit of separation and judgment. To find words that soften our hearts, words carried by a simple tune help us to transcend the barriers we build around ourselves. We are not changed so much by reformation as by transformation. A love song, a tiny chant to our God repeated daily often helps us to return our focus to the profound generosity, inclusiveness, permission and love of God. Our automatic parts do not need restraint. They need restoration back into belonging and blessing. A tiny love song can give us wings.

To be truly human means to know that we are always in ambiguous places inside and out. We will be revealed in our frailties. We will be standing hip-high in our failures. Looking closely at any of our actions there will be self-preservation, self-serving, self-importance mixed with love, courage, service, devotion and humility. Being human is truly a mixed bag. That we can be clear about.

But we can also be clear about how much tenderness is needed for our mess. To seek clarity in order to be good or to avoid blame, or to guarantee our safety and comfort will not help us in the end. We will always find ourselves with dirt on our hands of one kind or another. The welter of the world will not stop. We will always be mortal, vulnerable and human. We will be jewels encrusted with schist.

When my children were growing up we would sometimes go rock hunting. One day we found garnets at an old mine site. It was amazing to see perfectly formed crystals imbedded in a schist of indifferent, gray stone. We knew the schist was what allowed the crystal to form in the first place. Being human is a bit like that, the essence is often held in murky matter. We are jewels in dirt.

When we give up being right, perfect and blameless we can give up the burden of so much self-concern and become interested in what is happening in us and around us in the moment. Then when the going gets rough we will not be so self-protective.

Imagine then how absolutely amazing and perhaps seemingly ludicrous it is to attest that a small song/prayer, a tiny chant can lift us into mercy and blessing over and over again. Take Always, always, I’m with you now and always. Take it to heart, take it to work, take it to sleep, take it to play. Taste it. Breathe it. Sense its tenderness in whatever mess you find yourself in. When challenges come there it is in your heart and in your breath. Challenges will come and joy will come. Yet we are always in the loving mercy of God?

Please consider the possibility that a tiny chant deeply owned and practiced can bring more blessing into your life than you can possibly imagine. Why not give it a try? Why not begin to practice a heart’s song?

Gunilla Norris