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Posts tagged ‘eternity’

The Heavenly Choir, Voices of Lothlorien, and Glimpses of Eternity

The most profound emotions, the deepest experiences of the human spirit may be evoked by the sound of a heavenly choir.

Choir of Angels (credit: crossfiremc.com)

Choir of Angels (credit: crossfiremc.com)

There has often been debate about which is the greatest musical instrument. And of course each of us will have different favourites. It has been said, for instance, that the grand pipe organ is “the King of Instruments”.

But I believe the greatest musical instrument is the human voice.

The other day I listened to a heavenly choir – the Armonico Consort – sing some of the most sublime choral music ever composed in St Mark’s Church, New Milverton, Leamington Spa.

As I listened to Barber’s Agnus Dei, and Allegri’s Miserere Mei float through the church, I heard with new ears, and saw with new eyes.  I’ve been going to this church for 14 years and had not previously realised quite how beautiful it is. The power of the music had opened up not only the sense of hearing.

Why do we respond so instinctively to the sound of those voices?  Because, I suggest, they give us a glimpse of eternity.

Whenever a film director wishes to evoke in the audience pity, grief and sorrow, or joy, bliss, peace and gladness, the best choice of background music is that provided by a heavenly choir.

In the first part of The Lord of the Rings film trilogy directed by Peter Jackson, we find this used to good effect on several occasions.

When the Fellowship of the Ring meet Haldir of Lorien, we hear the first long sustained notes of those ethereal voices. The Lady of the Wood is waiting. The Lady Galadriel appears, and the voices of the heavenly choir crescendo.

In Lothlorien, again the massed voices are heard in the background, an aural tapestry evoking mystical power, visions, prophecy, wisdom, insight.

And at the end of the film, they are heard once more, immediately after Frodo has turned to his faithful companion and said, “Sam, I’m glad you’re with me.”

Here, the heavenly choir evokes values like love, loyalty, courage, determination, self-sacrifice.

In the bible we find these words: “God has written eternity on our hearts”.

I can affirm this by personal experience, again and again throughout my life.

Please share your thoughts on this. Have you too experienced the sublime through music? And do you too have a strong sense that God has written eternity on your heart?

People of Inspiration Part 2 – Rabbi Lionel Blue, Wise Man, Humorist and Much-Loved Jewish Raconteur

Rabbi Lionel Blue 6 Feb 1930-19 Dec 2016

I was sad to learn of the death of Rabbi Lionel Blue on 19 Dec 2016 and here is my tribute to him, as originally published on my blog:

As the second personality in my mini-series on People of Inspiration, step forward Rabbi Lionel Blue.

Rabbi Lionel Blue

Rabbi Lionel Blue

This much-loved man of wisdom and hilarity and spiritual insight first came to my attention when I worked at the BBC in Religious Schools Radio a few decades back. My Jewish friend in the office had brought in a magazine, and I was leafing through it and attracted by an article headed up: “Rabbi Lionel Blue and His Luscious Latkes.” I was captivated by this article, in which this delightful rabbi in his chef’s apron described his favourite recipe (the famous Jewish potato cake) and the massive numbers of latkes he produced in order to feed the hordes. His sparkling humour and impish personality came out in that article. He intrigued me.

Over the years he has popped up again and again in my life. I’ve read and loved his books, I’ve listened to his stories and his classic Jewish jokes on “Thought for the Day”, and I’ve seen him on more than one occasion in “An Evening with Rabbi Lionel Blue”. The more I’ve listened to him, the more I’ve found in him – of poignancy, truth, discernment, spirituality. He courts controversy with his witty  observations of life.

A few years ago I went to see him at a retreat house in London E14. Most of the evening was taken up with tales of his childhood in the East End, and his mother. We were kept in fits of laughter, throughout. But woven through his picaresque tales is such psychological and spiritual depth, leaving us with a  more open and a freer view of ourselves and our place in this world. He doesn’t often say overtly philosophical things, being largely a storyteller. But when asked about his view of the afterlife he made this observation: “eternity is all around us. Part of us inhabits it already.”

Another observation that remains with me is one he made in his autobiographical account: “I learned that my religion was my spiritual home, not my spiritual prison.”

I’d love to have your comments!

Sacred Places of Other Religions and Thin Places in Celtic Spirituality

Today Ezine Articles have published my article on “What can we learn from the sacred places of other religions?” (see below). I wrote this after a visit to Uluru (Ayer’s Rock) in Central Australia, back in 2009.  The thoughts expressed in this article feed into the content of my new novel “A Passionate Spirit”. I am working on this now, and it is a sequel to my first published novel “Mystical Circles”.

I am particularly fascinated by the relationship between spirituality and place.  Last night I was reading “The Spiral – Crop Circle News” published by the Wiltshire Crop Circle Study Group. What stood out for me was the crop circle enthusiasts’ idea of places “where the Otherworld prevails and the veils are thin.” This connects to the awareness of the Celtic Christians that some places are “thin places” where the veil between this world and the spiritual world is thin. This applies to all sorts of places which have numinous quality e.g. Lindisfarne/Holy Island, or Iona, or St Cuthbert’s tomb in Durham Cathedral, or Cheddar Gorge, or Wells Cathedral, and there are many other examples that readers of this may already be well aware of.

I am reminded of something Rabbi Lionel Blue wrote: “Eternity is all around us. Part of us inhabits it already.”

Read my article on Uluru here:

http://ezinearticles.com/?What-Do-the-Sacred-Places-of-Other-Religions-Have-to-Teach-Us?&id=5746009

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