In my late teens, my brilliant but troubled boyfriend asked me to marry him. I wasn’t ready to think about marriage, but he put a ring on my finger anyhow and declared us engaged. He was a bit of a bully and I was a confused kid. For another two years I took it off when he wasn’t around and put it back on when he was and played at being engaged. I knew I could never marry him – I just didn’t tell him that.
The fact was that I was fond of him, but that was all. He was an exciting friend, a multi-talented Harvard boy equally passionate about physics, music and his girlfriend in New York. I was flattered by his attentions and fascinated by what he knew about things: Progressive politics, science, chamber music. He was a violinist and composer too, a ‘force of nature,’ kind of fellow, way larger than life.
For me he was a tropical hurricane who all but knocked me over when he was around. In the end, the only thing I could do was to be strong enough to finally give him back his ring.
His second wife told me, when we later met, that he never quite got over my rejection of him, and through the years he would call or visit regularly to give me his news and to hear mine. And days before he died he phoned to say good-bye and to thank me for our time together.
“You were the love of my life,” he said in a raspy voice. “Do you remember the string quartet I wrote for you in college? It’s finished and recorded now. My wife will send it out to you.”
It happened that, right at that moment all those years later, I could ‘hear’ in my mind the melody of the fugue of that string quartet and I sang it to him over the phone. I believe he held his breath through the whole thing. How I was able to call it up from memory I have no idea, but there it was, intact to the note. It was my final gift to him, and when I finished singing, we both cried.
Just the other day I met his wife – his third wife – and she told me she was in the bedroom with him while he listened to me singing to him, and that his face was radiant and bathed in tears.
“I was jealous,” she said. “I couldn’t imagine how you had done that. You have no idea how happy you made him.”
I now wept to hear that.
Over the years his sister and I have kept in contact – we’d been friends when we were young, after all – and yesterday she invited me to come over to meet this wife and their adult daughter who were visiting from out of town. For me, it was a rare opportunity to try and heal a wound I had inadvertently inflicted on him all those many years ago, and to meet the woman who had finally made him happy.
That long-ago story has come full circle. I can now take my unusual, but real place in that family and will continue knowing them. His daughter and I will bond with each other, I hope, and I will cherish her, knowing her as his child, and hopefully give to her the love I was not able to give to him.
May his soul be warmed by the connection of his beloveds, and may he rest in peace.
The past can be healed, I am convinced of it! I believe we can reach back into our own lives and make amends, sending forgiveness out there and receiving forgiveness in return. I believe we can embrace our ancestors – our personal ancestors and all those who came into the world before us – acknowledging and clearing the bitterness we humans have created from all the injustices we have inflicted on one another. It’s like pushing the re-set button, moving onto a different track, into a new and higher frequency and evolving the collective heart and soul of the world in a more balanced direction.
California is in flames now, fires caused by serious mistakes of judgment we humans have made both in the past, and continue to make: such as the decimation of native peoples who once lived on this land, the very people who knew to do regular controlled burns of brush and dry grass to avoid a tinder buildup; such as the assumptions that we humans can own parts of the Earth and sell them to the highest bidders for cash; such as assuming our scientists can tinker with the DNA of living plants and animals, including ourselves, and get away with it!
How do we begin to heal the effects of our astonishing ignorance?
My daughter has one response, which is ingenious and also a very ancient indigenous practice – she uses music for deep community healing. She has been addressing the effects of violence by convening testimony-concerts where people come to hear one another’s personal stories of violent loss, and to experience music designed to go deep and to comfort. Indigenous flutes bring in the angels, string quartets soothe hearts and help us weep, gospel choirs rouse the soul and get us all singing again! We express our grief and hope, holding one another, singing and encouraging ourselves to keep up our courage in a world that includes victims and victimers alike. She calls these concerts “Harmony and Hope.”
Recently, she was invited to share her techniques with doctors concerned about the acid attacks on women happening in many parts of the world. They gathered at Buckingham Palace and she was asked to demonstrate the power of music as healing balm right there in those halls of the British Empire. We all cheered her on, so excited for our girl!
When the first photograph came back of her playing her viola in the red-carpeted opulence of the Grand Entrance Hall, I recognized the historical significance of what she was doing. This was a bigger opportunity, by far, than addressing just one single issue. She was demonstrating music’s power to heal history’s larger mistakes, shaking at old, entrenched injustices with improvised music as she sent out deep healing through the tonal vibrations of her instrument right into the Palace walls. Those frequencies, with love behind them, were going right into the belly of the beast and subtly affecting the foundations of the Empire itself that were built upon the subjugation and exploitation of indigenous cultures.
For centuries the British Empire has amassed its wealth and power by colonizing peoples around the globe – innocent people who never asked to be colonized – under the guise of ‘civilizing’ them.
In terms of frequencies, the vibrations of violence are much lower than the frequencies of Love and it is ultimately those high, divine frequencies of love-consciousness that encompass all of matter and form and life itself – plant and animal and human.
Thus, Love is what holds everything together; Love is what heals. I believe Love is how we make change in the world.
By improvising music from a loving heart right there in the precincts of the Monarchy, my daughter was transmitting a healing vibration right into the historical walls of wealth and power!
I once sang my old boyfriend into his calm letting go, offering him his own beauty through my singing voice. Now my daughter has offered her own blessing on a much larger stage, in her own way, spreading the blessing widely across the globe – perhaps without even realizing the effect she was having.
I believe we each have the ability to create a heartfelt intention of love and healing, and to send it out on the airwaves to the world with just a quiet hum.
We can do it easily – right now. Imagine the sound of us all humming together –