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The Savage Breast



God drew me up from the desolate pit, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. God put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God.~ Psalm 40:2-3

Most people find birdsong quite soothing. I don’t. And I am guessing that that is also true for many birders. You might find that listening to a recording of birdsong relaxes you and helps you to fall asleep, but for me, it activates my brain into identification mode, thus making me hyper-alert. In actual fact, much of what birds sing is not meant to be alluring. Sure, in the spring when courtship is in overdrive, the singing is about attracting a mate and love is in the air. But on territory, a male bird singing is saying “Back off! This is MY space.” Truthfully, do you think of anything a crow vocalizes as singing? And just look up the sound of a Black Vulture and tell me that it doesn’t sound like a T Rex.

The truth is (as it always has been) that beauty is in the eye of the beholder…or perhaps ear-holder in the case of music. Don’t we all have different tastes in music? And isn’t that diversity a good thing? I don’t need you to like hip-hop to validate my love of the Flobots. Nor does my disdain for contemporary country music negate its validity. Our variety of tastes is a gift not a curse.

The 17th century poet and playwright, William Congreve, originated the saying, “Music hath the charms to soothe a savage breast” If you thought it was “beast” you aren’t alone. How tragic that we took a thought about discovering inner peach and turned it out on a world full of creatures and people whom we feel superior to. The word “savage” has always had that connotation of uncivilized people. We too often use it as a way of demeaning those who in fact have a better connection to the soothing nature of the music that surrounds them. What a shame that we don’t more often acknowledge the savage unrest of our own breasts and seek the power of music, as the play goes on to say, “...to soften rocks or bend a knotted oak.”

Prayer: Great Musician, we heard there was a secret chord that pleases you. Could you remind us how to play it again? Amen.

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