Sunday, September 24, 2006

Over the Moor to Maggie

I thought I'd try a reel yesterday, so I recorded this nice tune. I'm going to go into the city today for Mass (St Francis Xavier Parish in Manhattan) but when I return I have hopes to put down a few sets of tunes. As a teacher of music, this may be the best teaching tool I've yet found - I can record a set of tunes and then send them to my students...or post it on the 'net for anyone who is interested!

Just as a "religious life" moment: part of my intent in posting (I am a man of many intents!) these videos is to show that entering religious life *does not* mean that I've had to give up what is truly important and life-giving to me. Truth be told, I don't travel like I used to before I entered. But I've played in nursing homes and at funerals, for bishops and fundraisers, in each case using my music to enter into the lives and experiences of others.

Several months ago I posted this, reflecting how much my spirituality and the way that I have come to know and see my service of the Lord has been shaped and contoured by my music. I post it again:

The leader of the band ascends the stage and the crowd goes quiet. The fiddles and flutes have been tuned and the dancers wait for the music to begin. I raise my accordion and look to the leader who gives me a wink. He knows that I will make mistakes, that I will struggle to keep up; on my part, I have fear that I'll screw everyone up, that I will go off time, that I'll forget the tunes. And yet to see him looking at me assures me that I can be a member of the band and that I do have something to contribute to the music and the dance. The piano is struck and the first notes sound out and soon all the room is a swirl of dancers spinning and shouting and laughing and musicians playing and Guinness being poured. I lose myself in the music, finding that even when I make mistakes I am still at my finest because I am doing what I love - I am helping people to dance and I am playing with the One who summons forth the best of my music - and in that I rejoice. I catch the eye of the leader of the band and for the briefest moment, I glimpse an eternity of playing music. Then it is gone and I return to playing, no longer an accordion player who wishes to be in the band, but a musician who has found his voice in the tradition.

Quite to the contrary of losing my talent or skill (though I will admit to being a bit rusty) I have found that I am realizing more and more my skills as I consecrate them to the establishment of God's Kingdom on earth (between cooking and music, it'll be just a delightful place if I have anything to say about it).

So ask yourself: what do you have to offer? What skill/talent/passion do you bring that cries out to be put to its fullest use, that in developing it you will develop yourself as a more attentive and devoted Hearers of the Word which cries out to each of us in the quiet of our hearts?


Joe said...


God gave you (and me, etc.) certain talents. He didn't give you the talent for ___ for you to not use it. He gave it to you for you to use Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam. Somewhere--I'll have to dredge it up--there's a great story of a Jesuit who used to be a stand-up comedian who is now using his God-given talents to teach.

Life in God is not a dour, humorless thing. God didn't call you to this for you to be miserable.

So be of good cheer, for His greater glory.

AMDG (!)


Unknown said...

His name is Jake Martin, SJ and he happens to be standing next to me as I type this.

Perhaps we should record a little stand-up routine and post it here, too.

Anonymous said...

Ryan, I'm not sure what talent I have that's crying out to be used to its fullest use, but I love that you're playing the tin whistle on YouTube! It makes my Irish blood flow joyful.

Now, you need to find some other Jesuit who can stepdance, and do a number together.

Anonymous said...

I played and sang for my housemates tonight... and it brought them joy, and me joy. I think that's what it's all about. Thanks for sharing.