When I decided to wear black and white to the Symphony, I chose not to wear my great grandmothers jet beads and wore, instead, a black pendant with a white elephant. It’s a favorite because I value the way elephants relate to and take care of each other. I know that no one would be aware of my message. Maybe that’s what put me in the mood to pay attention to the way we relate to each other in our human herd.
A young couple with two young boys boarded the train. The younger boy was proudly wearing a wide brim hat that might have been his dads’. It might have been his own prize possession. His broad grin and the way he was enjoying himself, constantly tipping it, pulling it down over his face, changing his posture, made me grin. I thought how another person’s happiness can make me happy. As we approached the theater a young man in a black suit, black wide-brimmed hat, bright red shirt and bright gold tie approached. I commented to my husband: “He has a message for the world!” and then wondered what that message might be.
Just inside the concert hall I opened my purse for security and held out my arms for the wand. The screws in both of my ankles got through alright. What is the message? Am I a threat to other concert goers? Or is it that I might be threatened by them? We entered the concert hall for the Pre-talk session and found seats next to some friends we don’t see often enough. There is comfort in finding familiar friendly faces in a crowd of strangers.
Then began the parade passing by: An elderly gentleman with a walker, taking tiny careful steps. A young man accompanying him has his hand cautiously placed on the old man's’ back. Caregiver or maybe a grandson? I hoped he was the later. A very ample lady in a very classy black and gold blouse and comfortable old tennis shoes. I looked down at my size eleven black patent leather clodhoppers. A young man in a baggy ill-fitting Tee shirt. A woman in a very attractive, long maroon sweater trimmed in white complimented by a ruffled white blouse that I admired and would like to own. Later, passing another woman in a white blouse with big black polka dots I said: “I like polka dots.” “I do too.” she beamed. My message to a stranger had made her smile.
Surprisingly, shortly after we sat down in our seats the maroon sweater appeared in front of us. I tapped her on the shoulder and told her that I admired her sweater. “Oh, it’s an old one. Thank you.” Another smile though. Then when the violin concerto ended, we stood to applaud; she turned to me to see if I had also enjoyed the performance. I nodded. Again, at the end of the symphony she turned seeking my opinion. No words spoken, wordlessly connecting with me. That stranger and I had touched in such a simple way. This human herd of ours does communicate, and sometimes we do quite well.
The stage began to fill with the musicians all dressed in black except that the women have chosen to express their individuality with different styles of dress and occasionally one or two of the men will be wearing a very colorful tie. I notice a white-haired violinist sporting a royal blue streak in her hair. By now the musicians are warning up. Each musician creating differing messages. The noise is chaotic until the concert mistress enters, wordlessly faces them and they all sound one lovely note in unison. The message of her presence brings calm and anticipation. We watch the conductor send messages to the musicians, using his fingers, his lips, his smile, his hands, his body and we hear their response to his messages. Finally, the audience, on their feet, sending their message of gratitude.
Celtic wisdom teaches me that we are all connected. It seems to me that I am but a small part of this huge human herd. Like the symphony, sometimes we sound chaotic. And, like the symphony, sometimes our individual messages make something beautiful. If our messages are going to have meaning, if we are ever to make divine music, we
need to heed the Divine Conductor.
Ann Dolbier is Celtic Way Contributor.
Read more about Ann here.