There are those tunes that get stuck in your head, you know, the ones you are humming just under your breath even when you don’t realize it. They become little soundtracks that follow you around all day as if your life is a movie and this music is the theme. Often these songs are inane, even irritating jingles that make you want to shake your head until the notes jar loose and fall on the pavement as you walk. They can become mind numbing or make you feel like you might be going over the deep end. Ever had this kind of experience? Of course the fact that these tunes are called ‘ear worms’ doesn’t conjure up pleasant images.
Yesterday I woke up and soon after my feet found their grounding, I realized that I already had a song going through my head. As I walked down the stairs and into the kitchen for the first cup of coffee of the day, I began humming. Now, starting your day with a song is not a bad thing but I wondered, had I dreamed about this song? I didn’t remember any music themed dreams. In fact I couldn’t remember any of the stories that had played their way out while I had attempted to get my nightly rest.
My husband was moving about the kitchen by this time and then he remarked to me that he had a tune in his head and he told me what it was. I was astonished to learn that we had both awakened to the day with the same tune flitting through our subconscious! We admitted that we did not know the fullness of the words to this song, only snippets. We recognized that we had sung the song earlier in the week at the pub sing we attend sometimes and laughed that we both had it weaving little tunnels in our brains.
The ear worm that had been our night time gift? It is a lovely little folk song called ‘The Bells of Norwich.’ It is based on words attributed to the 14th century Christian mystic Julian of Norwich. This gentle woman who made her home in the eastern English city is recognized by the Anglican and Lutheran churches for her devotion and writings in the Revelations of Divine Love. Somehow I think she would love the tune and the intent of the words written by Sydney Carter.
“Loud are the bells of Norwich and the people come and go.
Here by the tower of Julian, I tell them what I know.
Ring out, bells of Norwich, and let the winter come and go
All shall be well again, I know.
Love, like the yellow daffodil, is coming through the snow.
Love, like the yellow daffodil, is Lord of all I know.
Ring for the yellow daffodil, the flower in the snow.
Ring for the yellow daffodil, and tell them what I know.
All shall be well again, I know.”
The chorus of “All shall be well again, I know” are the words pulled from Julian’s often quoted phrase ‘All shall be well, all manner of things shall be well.’ They are words that have brought comfort to many over these years, myself included. Earlier in the week when we sang this song with a room full of people, there were smiles that crossed faces when we made music of the words ‘let the winter come and go’. It was as if we were saying an official goodbye to this never-ending winter that has had us in its grip. But even bigger smiles erupted as we lifted our voices in praise of the simple, lowly daffodil. We all seemed to collectively sing a resounding ‘Yes!’ as minds imagined those yellow blossoms so full of hope that are on the horizon.
But is was Julian’s words that once again settled on us all. “All shall be well again…..all manner of things shall be well again….I know.” It was a deep affirmation borne on a simple tune that burrowed its way into the places that had been cold and without growth for too long. At least one of the singers mentioned the many losses he had experienced over the last months. I know it is true also in the circles in which I travel. Loss has seemed to fall on so many like a heavy cloak that has weighed down spirits and created a desperation for change, rebirth, new life.
So today I will recognize the ear worm that visited our home as the gift it became, a gift that was still spinning through my mind as a fell asleep last night. Over the years the wisdom of Julian reached out in a visitation and reminded us of the eternal calm and comfort that rests at the heart of the Universe….all shall be well…..all shall be well….all shall be well again.
So be it.