Why are we so attracted to rhythm? We seek it in our music. We are drawn to it in good writing. We sense it in the cycles and patterns of our lives.
The other night at a Kansas City Symphony performance my wife and I attended, conductor Michael Stern talked a bit about rhythm prior to percussionist Martin Grubinger's remarkable performance of John Corigliano's wildly breath-taking concerto "Conjurer."
Stern noted that the first rhythm we're ever aware of is the heartbeat of our mother while we're still in the womb.
That may well be true, but I think something even deeper is going on as we instinctively seek out and attach ourselves to the rhythms of the cosmos.
What I think is happening is that we are seeking to echo the primordial rhythm of the creation. We hear or sense that foundational movement of divine life and try to respond to it by offering our own attempts at rhythm back as a way of saying, "Hello. I'm here. Are you really there?"
It's what dance is about. It's what music is about. Poetry, good prose, aging, rearing children, the good repetitive habits of our lives.
We sense that somewhere there is the original rhythm maker and we want to harmonize with him/her/it. So we pray. We sing hymns. We organize our lives in ways that honor the source of that original rhythm and we seek to share our sense of that rhythm with others.
It's what helps to make us human.
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PROTESTANTS TALKING ABOUT CATHOLICS
As some of you know, the pastors at my congregation are doing a sermon series now called "Jesus, the Pope and a Protestant Walk Into a Bar." It's really well done. You can find those sermons here, including last week's by our associate pastor, Don Fisher. Enjoy.
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P.S.: My latest National Catholic Reporter column now is online. To read it click here.