Deaths – there have been a few and resurrections seem to take more than three days – the cycle though of dying and rising is universal. Coming to a détente with death has all the agreements of any truce, ceasing of hostilities and the strains in the relationship, to accept the politics on offer and that some tensions can never be eased, just tolerated. But when you find out there is the possibility of coming to an acceptance the inevitability of death, it is a deep reminder that it is life chosen to be lived that can be the best diplomat for accepting all the gifts on offer from a new beginning or for the next resurrection. Dying to ourselves, our ego, burying the past, digging in and holding on – there is plenty to choose from when contemplating what you might lie down and let go of and perhaps too, what will be taken away from you without your consent. This seems to be part of the no-mans land that coexists with détente before any new day dawns.
On this Easter weekend, I am spending some time in the fields of Tyagarah Ti Tree farm where cathedrals are tents worthy of sultans and sultanas arriving with their caravans of musical equipment. Many of the high priests and priestesses ask us to make a vow for more humanity, kindness and to recognise in this place we are all one family, and it is only outside that the whole world is going crazy. There is something about live music and music festivals in particular that enable community to form on not much more than ‘three chords and the truth’. The sensory experience finds its way to cells throughout the body and deeply ingrained in the mind too, new pathways for new sounds and old ones refreshed and rewarded by memory. Familiar riffs and bass lines woven around lyrics are delivered via a set of lungs bellowed through speakers who have travelled further than anyone on the stage. My ears just one of the thousands of sets willing in receipt of the gift of this music. Whether it be the moaning of the elder activist, Mavis Staples, a witness to Martin Luther King, Rob Hirst’s t-shirt with a pertinent and relevant message in this election season, the energy from Steven Van Zandt and his Disciples of Soul belting out Sun City – I know for me music is always at the heart of my spiritual expression of justice through death and resurrection.
Music is so central to what it means to be heard, to be seen and to instruct what action you might take – whether it be a simple chant in a march or a complex set of harmonies and big band sound forecasting how the new world will come – it is always music that delivers for me. The music can come in the form of rain on a tin roof or raging waves as well, and the syncopation in nature with the blend of birdsong and breeze is always found where I live. The dying and rising of sound is constant, especially the falling into silence as sound fades away.
There is no détente with music and maybe this is a clue to what dying and resurrection is all about, allowing the sounds to come and go, prescribed and improvised. With the fingers moving at speed on stringed and keyed instruments on every stage. When everything is so tightly scripted there is no room for joy and surprises it shows – I think this is what détente looks like – a musician just tolerating and enduring, rather than playing with what has shown up. Iggy Pop screamed at a sound engineer to get the mix right and the expletives may have humiliated the guy working the booth, but somehow it was raising the stakes about what it means to rise, and not die, for Iggy. I like the direct and unforgiving way Iggy chooses life over death – there is no Good Friday for him – Easter Sunday everyday – grabbing life by the throat and throttling every ounce he can out of the day he has been given and taking it to the people from whatever stage he is on.
Waiting in the tomb for a day or so is perhaps the practice (music practice for some), the chance to get ready to come out fighting for life, renewed, recast and resurrected. In the original Good Friday narrative, first there is the rock and then there is the roll. And when that combination arrives together, death ends up backstage, and it is inevitable, sparks will fly.