Song Burst Dreaming

Guest Post by Maria Kornacki, Circle Member

When I am doing the work within

it always has a way of rippling out in the world

more than we know or understand

we don’t need to know this

just recognize it 

our interconnectedness

how we are interwoven

the true and holy within manifests outside ourselves naturally”. 

I had an intriguing dream on the night of Friday January 27, 2017. I call it “song burst dreaming” because the dream was charmed with a burst of beautiful song. I passed this dream on to Martha at the Blue Canoe, during one of our recent long distance phone calls.

I dreamed that I was present at a gathering at the Blue Canoe. This gathering is open to the public and takes place in one of the larger rooms. The highlight of the dream is Martha singing one of her own creations. Those chant like songs of hers have an elemental rhythm, the poetic lyrics fashioned in a repetitive pattern which allows every one to gradually join in. Well, in the dream she is singing one of these, a wonderful chant of her own spontaneous creation. She is singing with eyes closed, her voice rising out of her like a spellbinding gift. Her whole being is given to the song. It’s exquisite to hear, movingly beautiful.

I am mesmerized, rapt with attention, totally engrossed in the listening, merging with the spirit of the song, and also with the spirit in which it is sung. Nothing else exists in this moment. I am reverent witness to a miracle of beauty in the making. I watch with a profound awareness of the healing quality of the experience. I am moved by both lyrics and the melody of the song. The quality of the singing is very affecting.

There are young boys among the members of the public at this gathering. They are maybe around 10 years of age. Martha has a guitar. One of the lads takes hold of her guitar and wanders off with it, strumming the strings in an exploratory fashion. I also have a guitar, a Spanish guitar. My guitar also disappears into the scrum of young lads and their enlivened curiosity.

I talk to Martha after the singing. She says this always happens, this business of the young boys wanting to play her guitar. She has to search for the guitar to locate it before she leaves. She suspects that one of these days the guitar will simply disappear with the lads, and she won’t be able to find it. She doesn’t interfere with the young fellows taking an interest in the guitar. It’s important to show trust in them. They are a part of her community and good will is an important aspect of things here. The boys mean no harm, they are simply boys being boys in an uncomplicated way; fascinated by the wonder of strumming a guitar. 

Meanwhile, I am now in search of my own guitar. When I locate it, I am emphatic about the need for the boys to take good care of it. I tell them that I have had the guitar for over 40 years, that I bought it in Spain and I love the tone of it. I have carried it around with me, from home to home, all these years. I tell them that the wood cracked when I lived in a very rugged house, with frost settling on the inside of the walls during chill winter nights. I had to get the guitar repaired at Music City. It means a lot to me, this guitar.

I have no difficulty communicating with these boys, expressing my enthusiastic protectiveness of the guitar, and the plea that follows:

“So, please, please, take care of it. Give it back to me and don’t lose it.” 

That’s the dream

* * *

There is a way in which a personal dream can sing out a theme for our community; songlines weaving their trajectories between us. And then there is a way in which a dream can be singing out a story for the dreamer, providing clarity for personal life themes. The extraordinary dynamic, though, is the discovery that the personal and communal overlap, tracing “our interconnectedness, how we are interwoven.

This dream seems to offer a theme of treasuring musical expression, while a child’s sense of wonder explores the musical instrument with uninhibited ease. Yes, and as I review what I have written of the dream, these are the personal steps that emerge for me:

What do I know about the Martha-song part of myself, the inner beauty that mesmerizes me with its exquisite song burst. Do I recognize that part of myself with the same ease with which I recognize it in Martha. Can I celebrate the instrument that captivates my own boyishly uncomplicated and innocent zeal. Can I celebrate it in the same way that I am able to value the cherished guitar, and protect and respect its place in my life history.

And what is it that I am pleading for:

“So please, please, take care of it. Give it back to me and don’t lose it.”

It sounds to me as if this instrument is an essential part of my nature. After all, I’ve had it for a long, long time. And it is the children who have the instrument in their hands. It is the child I am pleading with. And it is music that is the key here. Music that inspires the soul.

As I explore what is aroused in me by these ponderings, I am led to the Polish songs of my childhood and youth. A rich repertoire of song filled hours. Songs about the land, songs about fields and wildflowers and trees and wind, and songs that contain conversation with a river or the sea. We sing to the land, to the river, as well as singing about the land, about the river. We sing to the lands where the Polish heart belongs.

As I reflect on this rich legacy from my ancestral motherland, I am conscious that what is being aroused in me is not so much about Poland. It is about the heart of where my own song now belongs.

I am reminded of another dream, on another night, again within community, again with children, again with song. But there is one snippet that particularly comes to mind.

There is a woman who was a childhood friend. She is a physician now. In this dream I hear her explaining her work to someone. And I find myself wondering how, in the light of her very measurable achievements, I would describe my own work, with so much of it contained in the heart, within the bosom of nature, and in the whispering winds of the mysteries. 

Thankfully, I don’t have to tend to this dilemma because I am quite suddenly distracted by something much more important. I am distracted by the pull of a song. I turn to the sound of the singing and add my voice to the song. As the song progresses, my voice soars. I can barely hold back. My heart swells with the intention carried by the lyrics and my voice rises with expressive fluency:

The music of my heart,

The music of my soul,

The music of my voice

Sings for free.

The music of the land,

The music of the breeze,

The music of the trees

Is rising.” 

This, then, is surely the heart of where my own song belongs, ringing out with the music of the trees. Oh, how well I recognize this theme. Singing with the grace of the world, singing for the beauty of life, keeping company with bird song and wind sound and the rhythm of surf beating on the shore. Just as I am listening to Martha’s song in the Blue Canoe, I am also listening with rapt attention to the sounds of creation, mesmerized, totally engrossed in the listening, merging with the spirit of the song, and also with the spirit in which it is sung.

When I treasure the instrument that arouses a child’s magical awareness for the strumming that truly matters, I need not be concerned about explaining the value of my work to anyone. I need not be preoccupied with personal achievement. I am taking care of what truly matters. I am protecting and giving back to myself what I can’t afford to lose. 

The passion in this plea strikes home:  

So please, please, take care of it. Give it back to me and don’t lose it.” 

I take a walk to sit with Lake Erie. I watch the roll and rhythm of the waves as the lake’s movement bursts with a rush of surf sound. The pattern of flow, the sound and force and energy of it, captivate me, as if I am observing the beauty of a well executed performance by an exquisite artist. I become reverent witness and companion to the spirit of life’s mystery.

The longer I sit, the more I give over to the wonder of it.  And little by little, instead of wondering how I can make a difference or do a better job, I come back to the place of simply receiving the life I have been given, this gift that is repeatedly placed in my lap. And my voice begins its whisperings, then it is toning softly, till it rises with the cadence of my own heart song, a spontaneous and innocent arousal, merging with the musical grace of the world.

These past few years, I find myself turning, again and again, to a gesture of receiving the gift of life with an open heart, as if it was the greatest treasure to be cherished. There is a pausing in the course of the day’s activities and lists and agendas, to breathe slowly, with gratitude, the sun’s return each morning, the way my legs carry me, the chickadee in the lilac bush, the breath of life coursing through my body. Pausing to breathe a sigh of gratitude when a friend who loves nature can walk with me, sit with me, receive the spirit of peace and bounty that this Eden instills in us.

I have learned that the act of receiving comes from the active principle. It is not a sitting back kind of energy. On the contrary, it is engagement with everything around me with a kind of attentive awareness. It is about recognizing the beauty in the gift of life itself. Life as a part of nature. The soft animal of the body loving what it loves.ª More than that. The soft animal of the body becoming what it loves.

A dear friend writes to me and her words make me smile happily:

“ahhh, I see the beautiful pace of creation holds you like a rocking hammock in the spring awakening breeze…. :) “

Isn’t it amazing how a spirit weave, within all of everything, keeps us connected, even in our greatest solitude. And then a dream of the power of song emerges from the mists of the unknown, gathering surprises at the Blue Canoe. And an invitation to record the dream provides a passage, through the written word, to retrieve an important personal message. I am so grateful for the time I have spent in the lap of this exploring. It has been a tonic for me, a healing balm. 

When we listen to the whispers of the soul, we are surely doing the essential work within. And somehow, without knowing how the formula works, how the equation is spelled, there is a mysterious rippling outward, an expansive movement of holy flow, a miraculous choreography connecting the web of our hearts to the true heart of the matter.  

When I am doing the work within

it always has a way of rippling out in the world

more than we know or understand

we don’t need to know this

just recognize it 

our interconnectedness

how we are interwoven

the true and holy within manifests outside ourselves naturally”.

ª Mary Oliver’s language: “You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.” from her poem “Wild Geese” in the volume “Dream Work” (1986)


Home Practice

What would it be like to sit in quietude, with some beloved pocket of nature, in intimate friendship and companionable listening?

To offer the gift of one’s presence and be open to listening from the deepest well of one’s being.

To explore the wonder of how it feels, what it means, how it smells, to receive the gift of Mother Nature’s mesmerizing music, like a child absorbed in that magically strumming spirit guitar.

To explore how this act of generous receiving touches the heart of the soft animal of our own body.

What might this be like?

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