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Seeds of something fine

‘That’s a great song’

Staff writer

I grew up in a musical family, so I’m thrilled that my daughter is beginning to show a deeper interest in and appreciation for music.

Several times a day I’ll overhear her quietly practicing a song she’s just heard for the first time or making up one of her own. She particularly likes to re-tell everything she’s done in a day via song while we drive home from day care.

She has also begun to express her appreciation when she hears a good song on the radio or in church. She has moved from simply requesting “again again” when she hears a song she likes to saying “That’s a great song.” The first time she said it we’d just listened to a song on an old Boston record of mine.

Most recently, she chose to express her appreciation in the middle of dead silence at church following a hymn. I’ll side-step trying to draw parallels between “Amanda” and “Great is Thy Faithfulness” because I don’t think there are any.

I will say, aside from being hilarious, that moment blessed my heart, both as a mother and as a longtime believer in what appreciating beautiful things can do for the soul.

Madeline L’Engle (one of my favorite writers) states in Walking on Water, “In art, either as creators or participators, we are helped to remember some of the glorious things we have forgotten.”

In art, including music, she explains “we are given glimpses of the world on the other side of time and space.” This world, L’Engle asserts, is the glorious reality we all know as children, but “we grow up and forget.”

On Sunday, our congregation had finished its singing and sat in silence. Our voices, lifted in song only a few seconds before, echoed a few moments and quickly faded until the silence in the room actually felt like more than the absence of noise — it felt like that mysterious, created space where things are born.

And in that silence a tiny voice filled the room with her heartfelt appreciation: “That’s a great song!” She said it so happily and matter-of-factly. I felt our pew and a few around us shake with the stifled giggles, mine included, but really my heart was swelling.

Isn’t that type of thing the whole reason we humans have singing voices at all? Think about it, what practical purpose does it serve for us to be able to create melody and harmony with the human voice. None. It is purely a thing of beauty. We can offer it as a gift and we can celebrate it.

Part of being human, I think, is doing just that — appreciating beauty when we see it. Allowing thanks to ring out in the silences where things are born is something I have found extremely helpful in keeping other less beautiful things from being born there.

I love that Lyla loves music right now. That when she hears a song she likes she appreciates its beauty and takes time in her busy toddler goings-on to say so. She may not always. She, like so many of us, may grow up and forget the glorious reality she now sees.

In the meantime when she says “That’s a great song, Mommy,” if it’s in my power to do so, I play it for her again.

Last modified Jan. 19, 2011

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