Tuesday, November 12, 2019

A Letter About Music (St. Varnava Nastic)

About Music

By St. Varnava Nastic

(From a letter to the sisters of Jazak Monastery)

First of all, I want to tell you about music in order to tell you something about the sweet-sounding speech of God in this world and in all the worlds of God. In the early centuries, people, speaking of music, argued that in the Universe some mysterious, marvelous music was constantly heard, which with its divine sounds fills the whole boundless expanse of space. They thought that a star was whispering to a star the words of eternal love in a language known only to the stars, and that language, beyond any human language, could only be music, a melody of notes written not by the human hand and invented by an limited, drowned out human soul. These are symphonies, our ancestors thought, which only angels could sing, only their enlightened souls could write and transmit to the stars so that they would whisper through the dark, inaccessible stellar distances. And they whispered, spoke the language of music, the only possible way.

And when the descendant of Adam, tormented by the curse of his ancestor, made his way through the thick jungle of suffering and labor sweat, when the soul creaked in eternal longing for the lost paradise, then the mercy of God descended on the people: it taught them music, songs, the secret language of the soul. So songs and music became the first consolations that heaven gave the earth, the first after the most important and primary: “And the seed of his wife will trample the head of the serpent.”

Music remains today what it was at first: the great revelation of God. She is the messenger of beautiful worlds, closed to man and his soul. The anticipation of those worlds in the inaccessible beauty of sound, in the colorful fabric of melody that reveals what we do not have now, but what we have been preparing for, what awaits us. And music, this quiet knock at the door of our heart, encourages us, consoles, proves that we are truly made for more beautiful, greater, more perfect and happier worlds, where music will be an open book, where its sounds will become part of life itself, not desire, hopes and expectations, but Life itself.

Therefore, human souls are recognized by music. For those who open their gates to music, the feeling of heaven and invisible angelic worlds is closer. But, alas, everything in this cursed world is a curse and a temptation, everything is a trap for the soul, everything is bewitched by the magic of a serpent that creeps and reaches for all earthly things and sets a trap for people from all of them. So also with music. Many have destroyed their soul because of her. It is as if we were given a beautiful lake, green and blue, and on the golden shores filled with birds of paradise, and when we, instead of living near it, would rush into it, destroying both our body and our soul. So with music. It is a wonderful country for someone who has a map and knows the paths of his own soul and who knows and understands the weakness of human nature, the poisoning of the descendants of the Adam, unable to sit on the shore of a green lake, blue and green, but retreating from its soft shore, strewn with flowers, to receive death in its cold water. This is the oldest danger that we have and which must be realized so that it does not become dangerous. For music is not heaven in this world, it only predicts it, pointing at it from afar and recalling that now there is a huge gap between us and heaven. It’s hard for someone who tries to jump over it with his weak legs! Indeed, instead of remaining on the green shore of the lake and contemplating the blue and beauty, he will slip and find his end at the bottom of the lake. Now between us and the sky lies a huge chasm.

I'm not afraid for you, my wondrous sisters. You are clothed in the armor of wisdom and knowledge, your souls are open to the sounds of divine music, but your gates remain closed to all siren sounds that draw to the bottom of the lake, first bewitching, then beckoning, until finally enticed through the door of hell.

Be careful, for, just as music itself is accessible only on the surface of the present, these words of mine about her are just one distant reminder. You need to listen quietly to her. Expect secret answers. Then bear fruit. I know that there is at least one soul between you who will hear, and when she hears, she will understand and rejoice.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.