Friday, August 10, 2018

the duck and the gopher

Last Sunday, as I was leading one of our morning services, I was suddenly reminded of a dream I had years ago.

During the service I had preached on Ephesians 4, and had spoken of the calling we all have as Christians, and the way all of us should live a life worthy of that amazing calling to love God and love people. We may have different parts to play within the Church as we help build each other up and bless the whole body, but we are all called. And sometimes, it feels like others have more calling. Feelings can mislead.

Though they can point to deeper truths too.

And as the service went on, suddenly I opened my hands in invitation, and they were taken by a memory...

It goes back to before I was ordained. The dream I was reminded of, I mean. In it, I was by a river, at the foot of a wooded cliff. There was a sort of ledge to sit on, and a bit of an overhang, enough room for a group of people to gather. As I sat there on a sunny afternoon, I saw to one side a small furry animal.

A gopher.

Not a creature one usually sees in England. But I knew instantly what it was. And it was a brave little thing, coming right up to me. So I reached out, and touched it - and as we touched, it began to sing.

I promise, I was more surprised than you.

It's song was tentative, deep, intensely musical and more instrumental than vocal. Plangent. Sad.

Then I looked to the other side of me and saw a dark coloured bird, with a flash of colour on its wing and on its beak. A rather elegant duck.

A duck.

And it too approached me, so I reached out my other hand and stroked its feathers - at which point, it joined in the gopher's song. Not with a quacking or a bird sound of any kind, but with a counterpoint melody to the gopher, high and gentle, rising and falling, yet somehow rising ever higher.

I retracted my hands, stunned by the music. It stopped. Both creatures stayed where they were and looked at me. Rather accusingly, I felt. I laughed, feeling embarrassed, and reached out again -

The music grew, and grew, and enveloped everything. I had never heard this music before to my knowledge but it was beautiful. Melodies entwined with each other, harmonies grew, the sound was everywhere, I saw people all around and wanted to draw them in, but somehow I knew all that I had to do was keep contact with the duck and the gopher. I wasn't making this music, it was nothing to do with me, I had only the smallest part - I was simply a contact point. Yet the contact was vital. I was the least important. I was essential.

The thing is, about two weeks after that dream, I bought a CD in Woolworths (remember Woolworths?) a disc with Shostakovich's 10th Symphony on it. And as a filler, a Ballet Suite. Like everyone, Woolworth's licensed decent recordings and sold them on their own label.

The first movement of Ballet Suite no.4 (no, there's really no reason why you'd know this music) stopped me in my tracks. It was the song of the duck and the gopher from my dream. Here's that recording I bought back in the early 1990s:

And last Sunday, as I led our morning service, suddenly I felt the memory of a surprisingly elegant bird at one hand, and a small furry creature at the other, and the sound of a song I've not thought of in far too long filled my mind, and again it was glorious.

God makes the music; all we have to do is a tiny thing so that everyone hears it.

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