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A New Song

Great happiness! Steven Sametz, whose music I adore, accepted my suggestion that he should set the text after which this journal is titled--a passage by John of the Cross, from Sayings of Light and Love.

We read through the piece last night for the first time, and it was one of the most beautiful things I have ever heard. I couldn't even sing part of it, because I got choked up, it was so beautiful and meaningful to me.

The conditions of a solitary bird are five: First, that it flies to the highest point. Second, that it does not seek after company, not even its own kind. Third, that it aims its beak to the wind. Fourth, that it has no definite color. Fifth, that it sings very sweetly.
This saying of John's has become a touchstone for me. He wrote it for one of the Carmelite nuns at Avila where he was spiritual director (it could even have been for Teresa, who knows?). It is advice for someone on the path of contemplative spirituality -- like me. He wrote the verses so that they would be easy to memorize, and wrote a fuller explanation that is more or less like this:

it flies to the highest point = always be aware of the presence of God

it does not seek after company = strip away everything that is not God

it aims its beak to the wind = be open and listen for the voice of the Holy One

it has no definite color = let go of your own ambitions and attachments

it sings very sweetly = sing sweetly of the most delightful love

John was not only a great poet, but also a very wise spiritual director; even though he lived four hundred years ago, I often feel him speaking to me across the centuries. And now my favorite text of John's has become the most beautiful music.

This has to be the coolest thing ever.


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 27th, 2007 07:27 am (UTC)
It sounds amazing. Thank you for the insight to the poem, which I already thought was very beautiful. Will it be recorded?
Sep. 27th, 2007 11:23 am (UTC)
I hope we will record it some day; however our last CD, which we recorded well over a year ago, is only just now starting to make it to release. So I'm not holding my breath.
Nov. 22nd, 2008 01:07 pm (UTC)
solitary bird reference
i love your journal, but i am doing a masters on solitude and cannot find a specific reference for the st. john solitary bird conditions your use/describe...can anyone help me? i'm on windununk@yahoo.co.uk and my name's mirabai. thanks
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )