Wednesday, April 28, 2010

singing the right songs

This is an entry in Thomas Merton's (monk) journal, Conjectures. It is a glimpse of monastery life.

"Music is being played to the cows in the milking barn. Rules have been made and confirmed: only sacred music is to be played to the cows, not "classical" music. The music is to make the cows give more milk. The sacred music is to keep the brothers who work in the cow barn recollected. For sometime now sacred music has been played to the cows in the milking barn. They have not given more milk. The brothers have not been any more recollected than usual. I believe the cows will soon be hearing Beethoven. Then we shall have classical, perhaps worldly milk and the monastery will prosper. (Later: It was true. The hills resounded with Beethoven. The monastery has prospered. The brother mainly concerned with the music, however, departed.)

So. I think this story has an important message. In any group where there is a longing for more there is a risk of edicts defining spirituality in the narrowest of terms. Instead of increased engagement with life and vulnerability to the powerful invitations from God to participate with him in a wide awake life, we start being "religious." We think (figuratively speaking) playing Christian music will make put more cream in our milk.

Formation is about life. Engaged life. Awareness of God and the invitation, the 'third way' that is always waiting to be heard.


Sarah Jackson said...

Lesson for my present situation(s) from this post: anytime someone (me) wants to "take their ball and go home" over a "song" shows they aren't really that invested after all. And therefore wouldn't know good cream if it splattered them in the face.

Karen said...


Anonymous said...

love the picture...i think that 3rd cow is singing the same song that you sing.