There is a song in the heart of every man that no one else can sing. When you hear music and think of sunsets full of orange-tinged purple clouds, when you lie on your back on a starlit night with the cicadas singing their end of the summer song, when you gaze into the depths of the midnight sky and see more stars than you could count in a lifetime, and your heart aches for the beauty of it all, that ache is your heart singing that song. It is the song of parted lovers waiting for reunion, the song that is sung when you see from afar the little village in the valley where the smoke arise from a chimney where you know your true family waits for you. The song sings when the church bells peal across the valley where a white steeple rises from autumn green and gold leaves, it dances across the crashing waves of the morning shore where the seagulls wheel and cry.
The song cries out to be sung, but no lips can sing it. All who try fail. It is as deep as love, as deep as longing, as deep as the great journey Home where He who is all love waits. That is the longing of the human heart. The song is for love and it sings every day, hoping to hear the response it is looking for.
It sings from the depth of the heart, deep crying out to deep, love in search of love. The faint earthly shadows of fellowship, friendship, and even married love, cannot quench its desire. Indeed, they only sharpen it, deepen it, make it long even more for the fullness which can never be achieved in this life.
For most of us, the song is muted, put aside by the insistent demands of a world that wishes to sing its own song. From time to time, when the soul is far from the maddened rush of the coarse world, when it sits on a gray beach and watches the dark clouds of morning burst into pink then golden hues of light, it hears the song more clearly, and for those few seconds, the ache deepens for more, even if only temporarily, before the song once again is obscured by the noise and rush of the world.
But some hear the song so intensely that they must go away, to find a place where solitude and quiet will bring the song forth for them in all its beauty and desire. The song
drives them – far from noise and worries that drown the song and make it barely heard. Alone but not alone, they kneel before the Image of Love in quiet chapels, in hermit’s caves, in monastic cells, or in the aloneness of woods and streams where the song is nurtured by the quiet rustling of leaves as a soft breeze caresses trees to bring forth their whispering glory of God. The thirsty soul listens in reverent silence as all nature sings this song to the glory of the Divine Lover, each creature, large or small, playing the instrument they have been given, filled with a chorus that radiates the simple, wonderful joy of being.
From the quiet of a monastic cell one night, I once looked out upon a field covered with snow, and in particular, a tree upon which every branch, large and small, bore this silvery coating in the light of a full moon that made everything glisten with light. It was then that I heard the song. I have heard it sitting in the dark on a moonless night, staring into a vast carpet of stars as I heard the ocean crash down on the beach below me in a rhythm that began when He Who Is uttered a single word of love to create all things.
The song is our very being, that is, it is what we were truly created to become. The song is nothing less that the fullness of love – of total and complete self-giving which loses
itself in the beauty of the beloved. This is eternity, the fullness of being completely emptied into Another, then being completely filled by Him in the same instant. We long to be part of the beauty we see – for every single thing of created beauty which we see is from Him, a reflect of His very beauty, the beauty of love that we long for. This desire cannot be shut off. It lives in deeply hidden in even the most degraded and coarse of hearts, for this is the end for which we have been created – to love and be loved so intensely that there is no other reality of being than this love. It is all-consuming, yet in the very act of being so consumed by the One who loves us, we find not destruction, but will truly become human.
And then we will sing with our lips the song that no one can sing here on earth.
“What is serious to men is often very trivial in the sight of God. What in God might appear to us as “play” is perhaps what he Himself takes most seriously. At any rate, the Lord plays and diverts Himself in the garden of His creation, and if we could let go of our own obsession with what we think is the meaning of it all, we might be able to hear His call and follow Him in His mysterious, cosmic dance. We do not have to go very far to catch echoes of that game, and of that dancing. When we are alone on a starlit night; when by chance we see the migrating birds in autumn descending on a grove of junipers to rest and eat; when we see children in a moment when they are really children; when we know love in our own hearts; or when, like the Japanese poet Bashō we hear an old frog land in a quiet pond with a solitary splash–at such times the awakening, the turning inside out of all values, the “newness,” the emptiness and the purity of vision that make themselves evident, provide a glimpse of the cosmic dance.
For the world and time are the dance of the Lord in emptiness. The silence of the spheres is the music of a wedding feast. The more we persist in misunderstanding the phenomena of life, the more we analyze them out into strange finalities and complex purposes of our own, the more we involve ourselves in sadness, absurdity and despair. But it does not matter much, because no despair of ours can alter the reality of things; or stain the joy of the cosmic dance which is always there. Indeed, we are in the midst of it, and it is in the midst of us, for it beats in our very blood, whether we want it to or not.
Yet the fact remains that we are invited to forget ourselves on purpose, cast our awful solemnity to the winds and join in the general dance.” Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation