Sympathetic Resonance


READ: Psalm 98

“Sing a new song to the Lord, for God has performed mighty wonders, God’s saving power is in His right hand and holy arm.  … Play to the Lord on the harp, to the sound of instruments; to the sound of the trumpets and the horns, may they all herald the coming of the Sovereign.  Let the sea thunder, and all it holds, the world and all who live in it.  Let the rivers clap their hands, and let the mountains shout for joy, at the Lord’s approach, for God is coming to bring justice to the earth, judging the world with saving justice and the nations with fairness.”
– Psalm 98:1,5-9

The quality of spirit brought to life in the life of contemplation enables the human soul to …”hear” … the seas thunder, the rivers clap,and the mountains shout!  In the practice of the Holy Quiet and in the stillness of Holy Solitude, the Christian disciple of the Benedictine variety can begin to hear the “sympathetic resonance” of the universe as it echoes with the voice of God.
Sister Clare is considered one the world’s masters of the harp.  She teaches at the nearby university, and from time to time, will come and play at the nearby cathedral.  This past Sunday was one of those times.  After the Mass, the Brothers and seminary students in attendance remained in the church for a talk and demonstration by Sister Clare.  She spoke of the history of the harp and she spoke of the metaphor of the harp as it is used in Scripture.  But the part I will most remember is when she asked us to gather close around the harp as she played.  In the acoustics of that cavernous stone cathedral, her music resounded.  At one point, she asked us to be very, very still and very, very silent.  She then plucked one of the harp strings and let it vibrate.  As the sound of that vibrating string sang, other harp strings, ever so slightly, began also to vibrate and sing, somehow enriching the beauty of the original string.  She told us that this phenomenon is known as “sympathetic resonance”.   As she demonstrated this over and over … allowing the mystery of it to settle deep within our soul and memory, she eventually gave her “sermon” … “When God sings, kindred souls do come to life and join in the songs of God.”

“When God sings, kindred souls do come to life and join in the songs of God.”  Wow!

The contemplative Christian life might be thought as a fine tuning of a harp, so that when God sings, our souls do come life and we join in singing the songs of God.  Medieval monasticism spoke often of “aureole”, a radiance or a halo that shone forth from the authentically holy life.  I am sure you have noticed the halos of the saints and holy ones portrayed in old books, medieval art, and stained glass windows.  Those halos were struggling artistic efforts to portray that spiritual radiance that does seem to be with certain souls.  Somehow, in some way, this Christian radiance, this holy halo is more easily seen in some lives than others.  But … I have sensed this radiance in Christian souls.  (I sense it now more than I used to.)  And to go further … I sense that holy radiance more in the universe itself.  Like I have said before … Franciscans, Benedictines and some others are often teased for our talking with all God’s creatures and creations, whether they be ravens or lilies of the field.  But it is an aspect of this nurtured Christian spirituality, a daily, ongoing practice that seeks to listen for and to look for, more and more the Presence of God in all places, persons and moments.  We believe in the Presence of the Creator; we believe in the Presence of Christ; we believe in the Presence of the Holy Spirit … both within us and all about us.  And when we are ‘in tune”  the songs of God bring to life within us a “sympathetic resonance” which allows to not only hear the songs of God but also to sing along.

Does your life resonate with the songs of God?  When God speaks, does your soul somehow come to life?

Read daily the Psalms, aloud as if poetry or song.  Pray aloud words of praise. And be listening … ever so quietly … to the songs of the ravens and the music of the seas, and in the nearly hidden timbre in a neighbor’s voice.  And be looking … ever so carefully … into the beauty of the lilies and into the dancing of the waters, and in the nearly hidden image of God present in a neighbor’s face.  Do these things … long enough … and you too will hear the rivers clap and the mountains shout as they resonate with the voice of God.


Brother Anthony of the Cross
(jim mcwhinnie)

Visit my poetry site, Willow Words, by clicking .
Also visit my new Psalter site for a reading of the Psalms

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