Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Brought to Fullness


Easter time is made meaningful to me not by chocolate (actually that's rubbish - I would have killed for a Cadbury’s creme egg on Friday) but by the prayer that is playing the St John Passion. In France Bach does not make much of an appearance and it has been almost six years since I have played it but last weekend, having meditated in the cloister, I sat once more next to the evangelist in the cathedral in Aix en Provence colouring his story, ripping at the string during the renting of the veil, warming up the tone for the purple robes, purifying it for Mary Magdalena, stabbing at the note like a sword, and I felt cleansed. I am not religious in that I do not follow a single religious doctrine, but I cannot think of anything more spiritual than the moment after the crucifiction, when Jesus sings his last words: Es ist Vollbracht (mistranslated often as ‘It is finished’, but meaning something more akin to ‘All is brought to fullness’) and the gamba solo that follows; the melody that sings more than silence itself could of peace, quiet, stillness and serenity, and then (as if that weren't enough) the continuo aria that is possibly the most joyous illustration of release ever written. The work makes me contemplate my life so often filled with fear - of dying, of letting go, of trusting the next step - and I am reminded that the next step may be paradise, it may be hell, but one thing is for sure, it will be.

( – and I have to confess I might have to spend some time in purgatory too because my first F sharp in the gamba solo was flat…..)

And so the fullness of the season is testing me in the same way. Last week the almond blossom was rent from the trees by a piercing wind, this week the cherry blossom may or may not survive the storm, next the purple cherries will appear, then disappear (not without having lined our stomachs), then the blood red poppies…..Every week, almost every day, there is something to hold on to, about which I can say, surely THIS is the most beautiful blah ever’, and each week, it is taken from me, it appears to die. Or is it merely a transformation? Bud to blossom, blossom to fruit, fruit to seed..... It's the same story.

Meanwhile, we enjoyed our walk in paradise this morning and I am enjoying being a free woman having sent my first draft off to my dear volontary editor and promised her not to tamper with it until she gets back to me.



Blogger Dale said...

Es ist vollbracht. Yes, that does spin a little differently from "it is finished." More like, "it is complete."

Lovely post!


8:22 PM  
Blogger Beth said...

Thanks for writing this; I had a similar experience this Easter season. (And I, too, craved a Cadbury's cream egg and didn't buy one! I'm not sure the restraint was virtuous.) Happy Easter, happy spring!

11:52 PM  
Blogger allison said...

Beautifully written and good luck with the book...

7:12 PM  
Anonymous Jenny M said...

Ruth, you paint pictures with your words, I would have loved to hear you play the St John Passion at Easter, also loved your explanation of Jesus' last words, so much richer somehow. I am priveledged to own one of Julian's paintings and can't wait til your book is out.

1:37 AM  
Blogger Katherine Tyrrell said...

Wonderful meditative post

Plus a bit of excitement at the end. I can't wait to hear what your editor thinks!

1:00 AM  

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