I spend a lot of time on the quest for a simple tune, hummed while washing the dishes or driving the car. A simple tune, humming me to the place that has been calling as long as I can remember. A simple tune, breathing me in and out, over and over, renewing my strength, bolstering my resolve. A simple tune, simple enough to be sung by everyone – simple enough so we can all forget for the moment about how we came to be humming this tune at this time. A simple tune that seems to be humming us toward the places we’re feeling called to. A simple tune, one that you can just sing because it gets you there, wherever you intend your “there” to be. Enough simple tunes for everyone, drawers filled with simple tunes showing up like mismatched socks – for the long line at the grocery store, for the waiting room at the hospital, for all of us at work, for getting the flu shot, for giving the flu shot, for rowing a boat, for the picket lines, for the library (a very soft, simple tune), and for taking out the garbage (accompanied by trash can lids). Tunes for unexpected guests arriving at inappropriate times (I think the beginning of that one is “Where have all the towels gone?”). Tunes to usher us in and out of all the transitions, big and small: tunes for the births and deaths, the long healings (maybe a nice, slow, green tune), the not-healings, the uncertainties, the not-having-a-clue-what-to-do-next-times. A tune to give us the guts to speak the truth to power, another to help us hold our tongue when we are about to blow it by speaking that last terrible thing, and one to help us stop and make ourselves rest before we run out of emotional, physical, and spiritual gas.
A simple tune that calls forth the vibrations around us and brings me out of myself to experience them with you. A simple tune to help me pray and to help me to help you pray and another for when we’re apart (and maybe one or two that you only share with God). A simple tune to help me hear through your pain and anger to what you are trying to say, and another to help you to hear through my pain and anger (maybe that’s the same tune, or maybe we just sing it backwards and meet in the middle). One to assuage guilt and shame. A simple tune to help us manifest our sweetest selves. Another to help us settle down and listen to the wind in the trees, one to sing along to the rhythm of the waves, one in thanksgiving for the beauty of the rivers, one for the lakes, and one to hum with the owls (or the dog, or the cat) as we drift off to sleep.
A simple tune to help us all reach the place where the world is breathing, has been breathing since before breath and spirit were the same thing. A simple tune to renew our spirits, tune us up, find our balance, and keep us attuned. A simple tune to make you laugh. A simple tune to calm the babies before they sleep (there are a lot of these around already – may desperation drive us to song in other situations as well). A simple tune for the bad dreams, to ameliorate them and restore us to our sweet selves (this one might be a four-part chant, but “rain, rain, go away” comes to mind).
Sure, simple tunes can be hard to come by in this world that seems so often out of tune. But a wise man once said, “Sometimes heaven is just a new pair of glasses.”
Excerpted from The Sacred Art of Chant: Preparing to Practice, by Ana Hernández ©2005, Skylight Paths Publishing, Woodstock, VT