After the work party is over for the day or weekend, it is time to relax and to rosin up the bow with music. Stewardship and music always go hand in hand, and whether it is new, unmet folks or old friends, opening your home and your land to guests who play an instrument or sing or simply tap their toes.
This guest blog is written by someone I know very well, who has hosted numerous music nights at her home, who just might bring out her lively flute at the next gathering.
By Rene Weiler
“My concept of friendship has changed considerably. I once thought of friendship as something for fun, for talk, for past time. Now I attribute to friendship the same kind of strength I attribute to family ties and I hold for friends a different, but equally fierce appreciation of their value in my life. I seem them as a treasured necessity, without whom my family relationships would stand unsupported.
We talked one night, my husband and I and our neighbors, about such things. In viewing the course of our lives over the past months and years, as well as the course of everyone else’s lives, we realized that no matter the love that people hold for one another, the busy-ness of our days keeps us separate, and make the years disappear with little having emerged out of that affection. It would only be in creating a clear intention of coming together in friendship, of making a tradition of it, that we could change that entropic direction into one of true community building. And so, not nearly as serious as it has sounded so far, “The night” was born. A time to enlarge our family.
“The Night” has no requirements except that it happen consistently and dependably, in our case the last Saturday of every month. We’ve had half a year of them now, and it’s the lingering glow of this most recent one which has inspired me to write. the glow is that comfortingly warm certainty that I have finally found my new family.
On The Night, once a month, our neighbors spend the evening with us — this of course means all the children, and it also means any visiting relatives, friends, or anyone else who wants to come. It’s a party! The difference is, it’s not a kids’ party, it’s not an adult party, nor is it the two existing separately under one roof. On this night, it’s the whole picture that counts, and without the children we wouldn’t be whole. On this night you never know where your baby is because there are so many arms who live it and reach out to hold it. On this night there may be more adults outside playing tat than there are children. On this night there are no bedtimes. On this night all children are loveable because they are a part of what’s happening and they know it’s for real. On this night there is a brief respite from the terrible rift that separates our society into two separate worlds — the world of the children and the world of the adult. Other dividing lines become blurry as well…such as who you know and who you don’t, or who’s yours and who’s not. It’s really an amazing experience to have a flash of loving someone else’s child as if they were your own.
What makes this magic happen is the simple intention of coming together for no other purpose but to forge bonds of friendship. The catalyst is song. There is nothing serious about these evenings, no heavy-duty “let’s get to know each other” kind of stuff. Mostly we don’t even talk; instead we’ve revving up for the thirtieth chorus of “Rollin’ in my Sweet Baby’s Arms,” or marveling at a five year old’s belting rendition of “Roll on Columbia,” or just taking in the rare beauty of a strapping adolescent singing a silly children’s song with complete abandon and without a thought as to whether it’s cool or not. as one friends commented, “You can get as close to someone in one night of singing together as you can in one year of talking.”
We’re not all musicians, this conglomerate group of shapes and ages, and some of us even have a hard time carrying a tune, but that couldn’t matter less. In the act of singing together, we carry each other along. Singing together…how could something so simple, so almost “quaint,” be so powerful? It’s like some exquisite joy of a longer for reunion…that’s the only way I can describe it…to be singing, laughingly, alongside someone you can for, and an affection that may never quite make its way into words, in handled with ease. It seems we spend our lives trying to get close to people, yet on this night, it’s effortless.
One can only guess at what the children see in all of this, and what memories these years of “Nights” will add up to for them. My husband vividly remembers a parallel experience from his youth where every Saturday in the summertime, the young children were invited to hang out with the adults as they played pinochle. The smoke was thick and the children dragged on cigars, checked out card hands, and felt themselves to be part of this terribly exciting grown up world.
We’ve cleaned up the act a bit and cleared out this smoke, but some of the elements are the same. We loosen up and let ourselves simply be friends.
The children will no doubt remember the friendship, the way the air feels good when grown ups are smiling, the music filling every room, the shoulders and laps they sat upon while they sang their songs, and the way no one ever wanted to say goodnight, but for the chance to look forward to the next time.
The will have discovered the magic of song. They will have experienced the meaning behind the words on our wall: “For heights and depths no words can reach, music is the soul’s own speech.”
In the Buddhist scripture it is said, Have for friends those whose souls are beautiful.” Is it my imagination or is it so, that in these times of song, all of us discover friendship. ~