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This morning’s dream invited me to enter Silence. I was alone. Soft light-warmth permeated every cell of my being: Tingly with joy all over, like nothing I’ve ever experienced. It seemed to last forever, until jolted back into my old body with its worsening symptoms, but not to fret. In memory, I can return to this exquisite revelation of what is surely to come. Someone loves me with exceeding gentleness—and everyone else, as well.

As I listened to the St. Louis Symphony on Classic Radio perform Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No 2 in C Minor, “Resurrection” (1894), I wondered at the brilliance and depth of the composer’s imagination, cut short by death at fifty years of age.

Of humble Jewish origins in Bohemia-Austria, Mahler always felt the outsider. Hard work was the antidote, first tested in Vienna’s Conservatory and University; then, conducting Italian opera at venues in Prague, Leipzig, Budapest, Hamburg, and New York’s Philharmonic, the proceeds of which supported his family. Studying German philosophers and metaphysicians also influenced his worldview and found a place in his musical compositions. Unlike others, Mahler had to finesse periods of solitude for composing, his lifelong passion.

Again, l listened to Mahler’s Second Symphony; its five movements opened me to worlds of angst/ecstasy, beyond my life experience. He seemed intimate with the notes of the human heart and reverenced them within the interplay of the massive orchestra, two soloists and chorus.

Nothing was left unexplored: existential questions, lost innocence, the dregs of despair, the disgust of existence, even the Titanic clash with God. Relief sounds in the Fourth Movement with the mezzo-soprano’s creedal statement, “I am from God. I want to return to God!” excerpted from the German poem, Primeval Light.

The Fifth Movement again opens with dark themes, from which the cry to God for mercy and forgiveness emerges. Glimmers of hope resound in the instruments. Bliss develops with the soloists and chorus singing Resurrection lyrics, composed by Friedrich Klopstock and Mahler; their simple words shimmer with the ineffable.

Indeed, Mahler’s imagination glimpsed the realm to which all are called; it impressed its ecstasy within each pore of our beings: “I shall die to find life.”

 

A lover of silence, I found another in the Swiss theologian Ladislaus Boros (1927 – 1981):

True experience always comes about in withdrawal “from the crowd.” The original, true and proper attitude of the mind is, as Heraclites says, that of “listening to the truth of things…”

Our journey into the territory of being should be made in silence, with wondering, wide-open eyes. The fullness of truth and reality is revealed only to those who attain to a silence which covers every aspect of their beings, or who, in other words make their basic attitude toward the whole of being one of delicate and reserved courtesy…

For anyone who wishes to hear what is true and real, every voice must for once be still. Silence, however, is not merely the absence of speech. It is not something negative; it is “something” in itself. It is a depth, a fullness, a peaceful flow of hidden life. Everything true and great grows in silence.

Without silence we fall short of reality and cannot plumb the depths of being.

~ from GOD IS WITH US by Ladislaus Boros

 

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