‘Tune the song of our hearts to the music of creation’ – words from a prayer set for psalm 98 this morning.
Following yesterday’s drenching, it was a huge relief to have a dry day of walking today. The only rain came after we had finished while enjoying a cream tea at the George Hotel in Chollerford.
My walking companions today included the youngest Benjy at only 7 as well as both my daughters and two very musical friends, both of whom I have sung with in the past.
Singing has been one of the most important parts of my life and, although we resisted the temptation to launch into song (I had succeeded in embarrassing Erica the previous day when I had tried to lift our spirits with ‘Everywhere we go-o …’!), it was fun to talk music and reminisce about choirs we’ve been part of.
I could see what made Julie Andrews sing when looking around at the hills today. The scale of the beauty of the landscape up here is breathtaking and so wonderful to see it without the mist of yesterday.
In fact, we could see so far today that my friend whose parish we were walking through was able to point out the offshore wind farm out in the North Sea. I was taken aback by the sight of the end goal, the east coast, having left the west coast on Thursday. I was suddenly aware of how far I’ve come and the prospect of finishing began to filter through into my conscious thoughts, stirring up a real mixture of emotions.
Singing is physically, emotionally and spiritually good for us, and the choirs I have been part of (not least 8ctave where I do most of my singing now) have helped me deal with all sorts of life’s challenges. One of my biggest gripes is what I consider to be the regrettable decline in singing and music generally. We seem as a society to place little value on the creative arts which I think are an intrinsic part of what makes us human.
Anyway, I haven’t done a lot of singing this past week but I have been accompanied by a lot of singing. Birds have dogged me (if that’s not too bizarre a thing to say) from the noisy oystercatchers and other wading birds on the Solway Firth to the chirping sparrows in the hedgerows, the swallows and martins darting around the barns and farm buildings to the skylarks’ seemingly endless song over the meadows. And then this evening, as we drove back after dinner from my friend’s house in Haydon Bridge, the sun gilding the crags we had walked across yesterday in such foul weather, suddenly by the roadside appeared a pair of curlews. It was too quick a moment to take a good photo but their silhouette was unmistakeable. What a treat! (Btw Radio 3 now broadcast birdsong on a Sunday morning if you can’t get out to hear it live!)
I love the fact that in C.S.Lewis’ ‘Magician’s Nephew’ Aslan sings Narnia into being, echoing that idea of the music of creation. Music can evoke all kinds of emotions and can take us on a journey through them to leave us in a different place from where we started, but it also invites us to participate whether with our ears or our own voices.
As I begin to reflect on what has been happening in me as I have been walking, I wonder whether it is something of a tuning of my heart back to the song I was created to sing.