By Karen Whistler
I can’t tell you how I found Joan Chittister, but I can say I have a propensity for reading footnotes, reference notes, and bibliographies. Since discovering and devouring The Monastic Heart: 50 Simple Practices for a Contemplative and Fulfilling Life I subscribed to her newsletter The Monastic Way.
For the month of August 2023, the newsletter was framed with our life as a melody. Her unpacking of this metaphor touched me deeply. Joan recounts how her love of music became a grievous longing after losing her piano at age 10. She then reflects on how fruits of grief and losses in our life can’t often be recognized until God weaves them together much later. I found her words soothing to all the unfinished yearnings and closed chapters of my own journey.
Each newsletter includes a short daily meditation. August carries the theme of music throughout each day. I recognize August is nearly over, however these are valuable no matter the day. This week, I enjoyed reading through the list and selecting one to sit with in a moment of silent reflection.
A few examples:
Thursday, August 3: “Music,” Victor Hugo wrote, “expresses that which cannot be put
into words and that which cannot remain silent.” Like music, life is made up of both spoken and unspoken elements. Getting the right relationship between the two is what makes it beautiful.
Friday, August 11: “The music of my life drips into the soul, low and dolorous, high and excit-
ed, until finally, we come to hear the song we’re meant to sing. Then, it won’t matter if anyone
else hears it or not”
Read the web-friendly version here.
See the print layout here.
I am curious how you respond to this thick use of metaphor? Does the use of musical language to describe life strike you as too heavy-handed or does it resonate with your experience?
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