I remember walking alone along dusty paths through the fields in summer twilight with the soft afterglow making silhouettes of buildings and trees. The wonder and fullness of such quiet beauty would make me desperate with the need to capture and express it. As a child, the only way it could be expressed was to sing, loud and free, with no one to hear but God and the shaggy dog who faithfully accompanied me. The words didn’t matter so much then. They could as easily be a rowdy ballad as a hymn. But they released my spirit which soared away to touch the face of God as a child touches the face of a parent in love and wonder.
To touch God. To touch. To end the separation of myself from the world of wonder that surrounded me. But it was never enough just to touch. I could touch a tree. I could even hold my hand in the rain and touch the sky. No, not enough just to touch. I know now that the restless yearning was to be touched back.
To be touched. To be responded to. An intense child, silent, stubborn, and withdrawn, I did not know how to ask for touching. And so I sang. And was touched by the gentle wind of summer; by the silent touch of a cold nose on my hand; by the simple beauty of anIndiana farm and the wonder of God.
But not by people. I was suspicious of people. Born a twin and youngest by five years of eight children, I was always too young to be useful. So, feeling the lack of a place for myself in the fabric of that big busy family, I withdrew into a fantasy world, building elaborate “ranches” among the tree roots, using marbles for horses and people I could control, and drawing pictures on endless yellow tablets. I stayed on the sidelines and watched and listened and wondered. And hungered to be a part of the big bustling world around me.
Music somehow reflected those yearnings. In the swelling of a symphony or the mellow note of a single instrument sang the hunger, the wonder, the longing I could not express. And I could be one with that. I could be touched by it. And for those few moments I could be whole.
c.2011, from SPLINTERS OF LIGHT/ Donna Swanson
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