Footfalls Echo In The Rose-Garden

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This heartbreaking commentary belongs to a “broken” father and priest, Fr Aidan (Alvin) Kimel, whose second son Aaron died by suicide. Fr Aidan preached his funeral homily and prayed the committal over his casket. In Father Aidan’s words, Aaron’s “death has shattered his life and the lives of his wife and children; has changed and traumatized him at the core of his being, in ways that he has not yet begun to fathom”. This post’s heartfelt and poignant ruminations had us all in tears and haunted us ever since reading them. Never before has T. S. Eliot’s “Four Quartets” become so transparent and pellucid. Dearest Father, I am asking your blessing, and offering my poor prayers. I find your blog very inspiring and your words resonate deeply within me. I am so sorry about Aaron’s death, especially that it was suicide. That must have been a very difficult homily to give. I pray that you and the rest of your family will be put back together from the shattering. Memory eternal, Aaron!

Eclectic Orthodoxy

First Movement

Time present and time past / Are both perhaps present in time future / And time future contained in time past.

I live in time, bracketed by a past I can neither change nor retrieve and a future that beckons, disappoints, and terrifies. I am never satisfied with the present, never content. I am torn apart in time by time, fragmented.

Years ago I read Jean Pierre de Caussade’s The Sacrament of the Present Moment. The secret to holiness and contentment, he writes, is abandonment to the divine will given in the present moment: “To find contentment in the present moment is to relish and adore the divine will in the succession of all the things to be done and suffered which make up the duty to the present moment.” I can see the logic, but only rarely have I been able to practice such deep surrender…

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That Sleep of Death

Death scenes from Le Jeune Homme et la Mort ballet & Henry Purcell’s opera, Dido and Aeneas

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Both the anonymous young man and Dido, Queen of Carthage, are heartbroken and about to kill themselves. Yet how “ugly” and merciless and “cold” (very Cocteau-esque) is Le Jeune Homme et la Mort for all the exquisite beauty of J.S. Bach’s Passacaglia and Fugue in C Minor and Baryshnikov’s and Noureyev’s mesmerising performances.

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ptNz8rBk7Y (Noureyev)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Er0-aAdC2n4 (Baryshnikov)

* That must have been incredibly hard for Baryshnikov to do – his mother hung herself when he was a small child, and he discovered her hanging from the rafters in their home.

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Compared to the supremely forgiving and uplifting Dido’s Lament, sung with pure clarity‪ and charity, at Henry Purcell’s opera – Dido and Aeneas:

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“When I am laid, am laid in earth,

May my wrongs create No trouble,

No trouble in thy breast”

* quietly sobs *
Hauntingly Beautiful! True heart breaker! A most precious friend of mine asked me once to forgive him in the exact words of Dido, although there was nothing to forgive, and I promised him to play this song on his funeral, for all the world to know what a most gentle, kind, noble and selfless love he had for everyone. Ever since I cannot listen to this without remembering him and welling up ..

Is it possible to hear this masterpiece by without sobbing? I think emphatically not. Dido’s Lament from Purcell‘s opera Dido and Aeneas is arguably the saddest piece of music ever written. But how exactly does Purcell manipulate our emotions to make sure we well up each and every time we hear it?

Legendary harpsichordist and conductor Trevor Pinnock, explains why  it breaks our heart every single time and exactly how Purcell reduces us to tears every time.

http://www.classicfm.com/composers/purcell/guides/trevor-pinnock-didos-lament/#iKWe3zIsJVq33irX.97

For opera connoisseurs, the great Jessye Norman’s rendition is in my opinion classic for its great depth and superb diction, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_R7BYSgz8xY

Elin Manahan Thomas‘ is more ethereal and crystalline

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uGQq3HcOB0Y

and Xenia Meijer‘s quite beautiful and moving

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ivlUMWUJ-1w (Opera)

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For more classic paintings on the theme of Love and Death, go to https://vimeo.com/89692541, which features a recording of the famous Aria, arranged for classical guitar and illustrated by several paintings of Heinrich Füger, Nathaniel Dance-Holland and Joseph Turner.

  • That Sleep of Death

Aye, there’s the rub,
For in that sleep of death, what dreams may come,
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause.

From Shakespeare, Hamlet: Act 3, Scene 1, Hamlet’s Famous Soliloquy: “To Be or Nor to Be”