Posted by: drjamm | October 10, 2009

Rest note with fermata

A little sabbath,
minnow whose brightness silvers past time.

The rest note,
hinged between worlds,
that precedes change and allows it.

—  Jane Hirshfield, The Door

jamm at

It is Sunday and still I long for a regular Sabbath day, a planned sanctuary from all the hustle and bustle of my week. This morning, instead of attending church, my daughter and I spread a blanket on the sun-warmed driveway and took out our water colour paints. With paint brush in hand, I decided to play with the concept of the rest note, that musical symbol for silence. In song writing, the composer has different symbols for shorter and longer periods of silence. Recognizing that silence is a form magic that is co-created when composer, musician/ singer, music, and listener come together, the composer can add a fermata (fair-mah-tah) (that bird’s eye looking symbol that hovers above the squiggly rest) above any rest (or note) in order to hand artistic control over the duration of the silent moment to the conductor. With the fermata, the conductor is free to interpret the music-as-it-plays-out-in-the-moment, and deliver the moment of silence with “just right” timing. Magnifico!Rest formata

To my mind, creating a Sabbath for myself requires advanced planning; in other words, I need to my write a “rest note” into my week’s “composition.” All to often, however, the needs of others around me  — and, if I am honest, my own lack of focus — affect(s) my ability to achieve a sustained and meaningful rest. Would adding a “fermata” to my planned rest: adding a permission to artistically interpret — in the moment — and make adaptations that fit my “little sabbath” rest around the needs of others in my life increase my chances of success? And what would that artistc interpretation look like for me and my moment of rest?  For me, the effort of composing a week of meaningful work and finishing with a moment of play and rest seems so complicated. The idea that there might be some artistry or flair to achieving a sabbath-of-sorts makes me feel inspired to keep trying until I succeed.

I have been very inspired by reading Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel’s brilliantly written book, The Sabbath. I don’t have a religious or cultural structure to support “a day of rest.” But perhaps if I taped my little painting, “rest note with fermata,” above my mirror during this week, I might remind myself to focus on my need to set aside time at the end of the week, so I may create sacred space for me and my family. Hmmm, I think I will give it a try.    :0)

May you find rest in your week so you may be refresh and ready to begin again the Good Work of your life. Om and namaste.

*******       bright heart singing                          credits and links             *******

jamm at brightheartsinging.wordpress.comImage credits: Water colour painting by jamm at This painting is based on a line of sheet music from Paul Simon’s, “Quiet,” “The line begins51MIiYbov6L._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA240_SH20_OU15_: “I am heading for a time of quiet, when my restlessness is past.”

Book credit, Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, The Sabbath.

Poem credit: Jane Hirshfield, The Door, published in Risking Everything: 110 Poems of Love and Revelations, p. 131.

bright heart singing, copyright 2009 – jamm. Creative commons attribution, non-commercial sharing only (translation: feel free to quote me in context or use this entry but please always credit me for my work, thanks.)


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: