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Friday, September 16, 2011

Reverence

Several years ago Chris received a book from a friend and fellow musician: "Reverence - Renewing A Forgotten Virtue," by Paul Woodruff. If memory serves me, this friend gave the book to Chris because, among other things, it struck him that Chris displays undeniable reverence whenever he sits down at the piano to play jazz...be it his 'own' compositions that he's playing or scores written by others...a deep reverence given by Chris to that which is, that which was, and that which is coming, and all who have made it and will make it so.

I fished the book out of the library in Chris' music room, thinking it may be time to read it myself since the virtue of reverence has been on my mind of late. On the back cover, one of the plugs for the book was: "Woodruff sets himself two large tasks: to revive an appreciation for reverence in a culture that celebrates irreverence, and to rescue the idea of virtue from its proponents on the right and its proponents on the left. He succeeds admirably in both." ~ Christian Science Monitor. This plug reminds me of how Chris quotes another musician/teacher of his: "If the right don't get ya, the left surely will...be wary of both." Ha!

Here's some paragraphs from the intro of the above book:
Reverence is an ancient virtue that survives among us in half forgotten patterns of civility, in moments of inarticulate awe, and in nostalgia for the lost ways of traditions cultures. We have the word "reverence" in our language, but we scarcely know how to use it. Right now it has no place in secular discussions of ethics or political theory. Even more surprisingly, reverence is missing from modern discussions of ancient cultures that prized it.

Reverence begins in a deep understanding of human limitations; from this grows the capacity to be in awe of whatever we believe lies outside our control - God, truth, justice, nature, even death. The capacity for awe, as it grows, brings with it the capacity for respecting fellow human beings, flaws and all. This in turn fosters the ability to be ashamed when we show moral flaws exceeding the normal human allotment. The Greeks before Plato saw reverence as one of the bulwarks of society, and the immediate followers of Confucius in China thought much the same. Both groups wanted to see reverence in their leaders, because reverence is the virtue that keeps leaders from trying to take tight control of other people's lives. Simply put, reverence is the virtue that keeps human beings from trying to act like gods.
Whew! Lots of food for thought just in those two paragraphs. Yep, I think this book is gonna have to be tackled soon!

Thinking about myself, I can say that I've a healthy respect for many, various paths (fiber arts, the metaphysical, etc.) that I've studied and been involved with over the years and for the people who have contributed to the joy I feel regarding this involvement. That said, the above author discusses the difference between 'respect' and 'reverence.' He writes, "Another easy mistake to make about reverence is to confuse it with respect. Respect is sometimes good and sometimes bad, sometimes wise and sometimes silly. It is silly to respect the pratings of a pompous fool; it is wise to respect the intelligence of any student. Reverence calls for respect only when respect is really the right attitude. To pay respect to a tyrant would not be reverent; it would be weak and cowardly. The most reverent response to a tyrant is to mock him. All of this because reverence is a kind of virtue. A virtue is a capacity to do what is right, and what is right in a given case - say, respect or mockery of an authority figure - depends on many things."

Hmmm... This author gets my mind going...

On further thinking about myself, I know that my youngest son, Alex, has teased me that I literally often bow to people I'm talking to and in front of. In fact, the whole family has recognized that I do this. Alex is just more sarcastically vocal about it. Prior to my recent Life Between Lives session, I'd never been able to completely explain why I bow to people. It just happens. However, perhaps reverence has something to do with it. In my Life Between Lives session, I alluded that this bowing has to do with me not thinking I am above anyone in any way, shape, or form. It certainly has to do with having respect for the person before me, especially given that no matter how they are acting at the time or what mask they are wearing, I am recognizing and honoring that they are amazingly wonderful as the soul they truly are.

Related, Chris early on in our 31-year marriage and even now has questioned me why I am often attracted to folks who seem to him to be the unlikeliest of friends. I have always answered him that I don't analyze just surface info. I look deep into their eyes, "the mirror of the soul," as proclaimed by the old Yiddish proverb. Doing so has helped me look past so-called 'flaws' in the person's incarnated body and get to the good stuff waaaay deeeeeeep.

Reverence. A good topic to study.

4 comments:

  1. A wonderful topic to think about, especially during this time of change. Ancient cultures had both reverence and respect - so much to learn from the past as we move forward in this millennium. Thank you for sharing these thoughts with all of us.

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  2. Thank YOU, Nancy, for stopping by the blog and commenting. Glad you liked the topic!

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  3. Hi Jenny,

    As I read your wonderful topic, I thought about what reverence would mean today in our culture. I looked it up in the dictionary and no matter where I looked 'respect' was definitely in there.

    Now reverence in regards to Chris and his work, well I'll give you my definition of reverence. Everyone reading this can go to youtube and type in Chris Bakriges. The first song to come up is 'solo piano with image slides'. Not only do you get to see Chris play, the images portrayed are emotionally moving with his music. I personally have 3 of his CD's and am looking forward to the 4th (hint, hint).

    Reverence to me, is first about following and trusting an unexplicable force that originates from within you. And this creative pulse taps into a different kind of intelligence that fills us with exhilaration and fear all at once. T.S. Eliot calls it that 'awful daring of a moment's surrender'. It is where we are given the ability and freedom to expand far beyond this reality. It's about letting go of familiar patterns where your senses come to life and everything feels fresh and new and your work takes on a new sensitivity. It's about starting a whole new chapter with another world that's more vivid, rich with feelings and wonders and joy. It's about merging with the Divine and plunging into the flow of the river of life.

    I found this great quote which has reverence written all over it....
    "Trust yourself to it; launch upon it; sail abroad over it: you will find it has no end: it will carry you around the world.
    Julius and Augustus Hare

    Love
    Janice

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  4. Oh Janice,
    I can't thank you enough for sharing what you feel about Chris' music. I'm getting all weepy with emotions as I read what you wrote. Thank you, dear friend. We were hoping for a new CD to be made and released by this coming November, but now it seems this will happen further down the line. But know once it happens, a CD will be coming your way!

    Thank you for sharing all your thoughts and those of T.S. Eliot. Excellent! And you KNOW I LOVE that quote by the Hare's!!!! xoxoxoxox
    Love,
    Jenny

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