Friday, September 4, 2009

The five best jazz tunes for a silent retreat-- thoughts on music

I am walking down this hallway...
and there is music. I lean against the wall and listen. There is a bit of a struggle going on. The melody is there, but it stops and starts. I think of Thelonious Monk. I think of someone learning a new song. I walk by the door and glance in. My heart leaps.
I am in the dining room looking for an exuberant face to lift me through these days. I thought there were none. I find one. It was hidden behind a body twice as old as mine, hunched over, belonging to a priest who walks so slowly he takes you back to Tim Conway on the Carol Burnett show. His face glows.
It is that face that is peering down at the piano keys. Later you learn that he is teaching himself to play piano. Yes, exuberance.
Yesterday I started visiting blogs and at one I skipped over some links. I went back this morning all intent to watch a scene from a show I have never watched, but instead listened to the song I have heard many times. I hear these words "But you don't really care for music, do you?" and my heart breaks open.
My friend had asked me to think of her on two specific days... truth be told, I did, but not as much as I had the days leading up to those days. The retreat was in wind down time and I passed on my prayers to St Therese of Lisieux. Maybe I needed the line of music and it was not with me.
But I am grateful for what was there...
  1. Blue Skies by Dinah Washington. So lets say you want to go into the dining room with a bounce to your step and a joyful swinging heart (some of lack exuberance). This will do the trick.
  2. Sky Blue by Maria Schneider and her Jazz Orchestra. no link. If one needs 8 minutes to quiet one self to enter prayer, then buy this CD by the same name.
  3. Blue in Green by Miles Davis. Fell in love with this most wonderful color combination while doing art at a retreat a few years back.
  4. Blue Train by John Coltrane. when a friend who knows Wernersivlle suggests Coltrane, listen to her. If you have been there, you know about the trains.
  5. Blue Gardenia by Ahmad Jamal. Ok, yes there was a theme developing, so I went searching for tunes with Blue in the title. not all gifts arrive randomly by clicking on "shuffle"
Though I did have Thelonious on my IPOD, sadly, I did not have Blue Monk .


  1. I had playlists for many of the meditations of the Exercises, some still bring prayer flooding back...

    On the retreat I preached at this summer (!?) there was jazz.

  2. Michelle--- music does that. summer ain't over, but maybe I could do some planning for the fall, maybe.

  3. Maybe this was the problem with my retreat. If I ever venture forth again, I will take music and actually listen to it. Some of this music.

  4. Gannet Girl... a few days in my IPOD failed to produce music for a few hours. would have been a different retreat if it had not come back. It did show how much I love music and how much it calms my soul. have never tried an 8 days retreat with out some music in my room.


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