Promptings of the Spirit: A sequel

Yesterday a new call for artists went out for ECVA, the arts organization for which I serve as exhibitions director.  The call, which is for an exhibit entitled "Imaging the Sacred Art of Chant" features the music of its curator, Ana Hernandez; you can click on the main logo or find the song, "Om Namah Shivaya," here.

I was off at my daughter's camp while they were putting this call together, so I can claim absolutely no responsibility for the lyrical beauty of this call, but I am absolutely delighted with it, and was listening off and on all day to Ana's lovely music.

My husband left around 5 to go into Seattle, and shortly after he left I got an email from my friend Ann, the music director of our local Episcopal Church, inviting me to participate in a sort of impromptu evening of chant. I had no idea what to expect, but there was nothing else on my agenda and he was gone, so I thought, what the heck?

In the parking lot I ran into a dear friend I haven’t seen in months, who was there waiting to pick up her daughter (coming home from a weeklong hiking trip) so I invited her to join us in chant while she waited. We went inside to find Ann seated on the floor in the middle of the sanctuary with a harmonium; there were two other musicians, one playing tabla and another guy with a guitar, and 4 other people seated in the circle. Ann passed out sheets to chant from, and I was surprised (and delighted) to discover that the chants were all Hindu chants from Ana’s book; there was also a quote from the book, and one of the chants was the one posted on the website.

So I squeaked, we talked about ECVA and the exhibition for a bit (apparently it was the call arriving in the mail that had inspired her to hold the evening), and then one more woman arrived and we settled in to spend an hour and a half chanting — with an improvised Namaste chant at the end.

Amazing. And I loved it: a perfectly lovely peaceful evening -- and such a blessing.  Sitting there in my favorite sanctuary, chanting Hare Krishna, I found myself thinking of the Hare Krishnas who stood around chanting in airports, street corners, and other places when I was younger, and how people used to mock them. When I shared the story of my evening with my friend Robin, ECVA's executive director, she responded that she'd wondered about the same thing, and said, "It seems as if we have been carrying those chants all of this time and are allowing them to be born (again, or for the first time). Maybe that's what we do at our age, we give birth again, this time from our hearts and souls."

The evening seemed to me to be yet another instance of that whole going-with-the-flow thing I spoke of yesterday.  I have to say, I'm liking these coincidences -- but I need to be very careful about how I view them.  They have nothing to do with me being "special" in any way; it's all about a willingness to be present in the moment and respond.  There are no guarantees that things will always play out so beautifully: the only guarantee, really, is that where we are is where we're supposed to be.  But somehow that alone is gift enough.


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