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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, “ 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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