I Can Still Fly

Here is what I am wondering.  I have said it often in these posts.  I don’t know if it is true.  I don’t know that there is a connection at all.  I think there is.

Tonight I was lifted to another place; a place where life exists with an intensity that can’t be contained by words or pictures or any means of communication available to me that might allow me to describe it to you.   I have never experimented with recreational drugs, but I suspect it might be called a Natural High.

The precipitating event was music, the Symphony, especially a very unusual contemporary Concerto for Guitar and Orchestra by a composer named Richard Harvey.  The Guitarist was Nicholas Ciraldo.   There were unexpected combinations of sounds and styles, rooted in old dance and song forms from different parts of Europe.  There were five movements and I wished there had been five more.  Time ceased to exist.  The Ravel and two Mozart pieces complemented the Harvey piece making the evening a true pleasure.

What I am wondering is if the capacity to experience that sort of a natural high is located near the capacity to experience grief.   I am fully aware that I do not have the power to create feelings.   I can put myself in situations that have in the past sparked certain feelings, genuine feelings.  I cannot make them happen.  I think it is possible to increase the likelihood of experiencing certain feelings by bringing expectations from past similar experiences when those feelings have emerged before.

I have chosen to embrace the grief that the last few years have brought.  There is a worldview rooted in my faith life that frees me to move into grief without drifting into a sort of hopeless despair.  As a result, the grief has been horribly painful at times but not permanently disabling.  Yes, I think there is a connection between the two, the capacity to experience grief and the capacity to be lifted to a place of life with an intensity that is beyond description.

Midday today included a time of quiet meditation in the Sanctuary at the church from which I retired.  It was a short term small group program in which I am participating.  The time in that room was furnished with Spiritually stimulating visual cues, some white noise from street traffic just outside the colorful sculptured glass windows, a poem from Wendell Berry’s Sabbath’s 2006 and a few pages from a book by Richard Rohr on Contemplative Spirituality.  That may have helped set the stage for tonight’s experience.

The afternoon was spent gathering the information for tax time, filling out the information packet so that it is ready for delivery.  Since I am pretty well organized in that part of my life, the task was not a painful one.  It was comforting to know that the day would end with the Symphony.

I chose to reserve a spot at the dinner before the symphony.  The table conversation was interesting.  There were five of us at the table.  Two men knew one another.   They are avid bicyclists.  One of the two, who said he was 77 years old, rides at least two or three thousand miles a year.  He rode his bicycle 750 miles to his 50th high school reunion a few years ago.  I rode my Honda Minivan 600 miles last summer to mine.  The other of the two had been to New Zealand where he rode a bicycle for four days in the mountains near Picton, where I got off the ferry and began the journey on the South Island of NZ.  We both had wonderful memories of Nelson and other common stops.  A husband and wife at our table mentioned that they had lived in Berlin for a while many years ago.  We could share stories from our common experiences.  At the concert, the fellow sitting next to me was very good friends with one of the folks in my former parish whom I would also consider friend.  There were a number of other pleasant interactions with folks I have come to know over the years here.

When I was driving home, the station I listen to happened to be broadcasting a special on old love songs from musicals since Valentine’s Day is coming.  The music was romantic, touching the feelings I have for Mary Ann.  At the same time, it was not at all a deep grief moment as it might have been months ago.  Feelings were stirring in the place from where the grief comes, which seems to me to lie immediately next to the place from which sprung tonight’s natural high.  In both places, I feel very much alive.

Grieving hasn’t stolen the capacity to fly.   It has helped me locate the airport.

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