Podcast: Play in new window
Door to Infinity, by Simone Held
I have been thinking intensely about my wonderful hour spent with Morten Lauridsen last week. Such a wonderful, thoughtful man!
Why do so many people talk about death when they are talking about being moved by ML’s music? What is it about his music that does this?
I can’t tell you the number of times I have been stopped by a listener or colleague who has a story about ML’s music, and how the music allowed that person to be closer to one who was lost. (I include myself in this list! See Our Arms Are Not Tired: A Vigil for Ron.) We are most likely to be so moved when looking through the hole that is left in our world when someone is gone forever.
And we, in this world, in this society, only tend to look through the door to the infinite when faced with mortality. We deny ourselves the sanctity of joy, of peace, of enlightenment, while being distracted by the barrage of blinking and wondrous triviality, and only have the time to see that the infinite is around the corner only when hit face-on by it. We seem, as a society, to only plumb the depths of the profound when losing a loved one to eternity, or when welcoming a child into this world from the eternity from which he came.
ML himself says that he is not only moved to compose by masterful and profound texts, but also from a deep and contemplative place where he goes when at his own retreat at Waldern Island. There, he can be moved by a deep stillness, the place I called “There” when discussing it with him. But it is not always those issues of death and loss that move him. There is grief, but there is also love, longing, intimacy, gratitude, and profound joy in his music. The texts range from sacred Latin texts to ancient Italian poetry to Ranier Maria Rilke to James Agee to his own words, encompassing the entirety of the human experience. And all of those pieces open that door.
After having spent some time with Dr. Lauridsen, I have resolved to open that door more often. I don’t know when or how, but I have resolved to be still. Infinity will come.