Friday, October 8, 2010

Marrow memory

We've all heard about something called "muscle memory".  Athletes train to throw a ball, sink a jump shot, or drive a golf ball off the tee by practicing the motions hundreds of times.  They hone the motions to a point where they happen automatically, when the opportunity arises, without conscious thought.  Of course we all experience muscle memory on a daily basis: from brushing our teeth, to shifting gears, to munching on a sandwich.  Last night, in choir practice, I discovered another similar kind of memory.   Ted Cornell asked if we knew a particular lively spiritual song from memory.  I had sung the song once over the past month but had performed it with the choir in the past.  At first I was uncertain that I knew the song...but after a quick scan of the words I knew it would come back.  You see, this song involves every part of your personality...your mind, heart, body movement and clapping.  Each vocal section has a special "standout" part.  In short, your whole personality gets involved as an individual singer and as a part of the larger choir.  As we started to sing, each upcoming phrase jumped into my mind just before I had to sing it and, without consciouis recall, the music just flowed out of somewhere deep within.  Somehow I don't think I had memorized the song...I think I had stored it deep in my bones.  One lively note and phrase led to the next in some kind of chain reaction and it was like a tape recording that started and played almost by itself.  So I decided to call this "bone memory" or "marrow memory" because the song wasn't stored in my mind or my had lodged deeper...somewhere down in my skeleton...deep in my bones.  You might say that the good songs really become a part of our being.  But then, you might also say that life is a song...and we are called to sing with our minds, muscles, heart...and bones every day!
Rob Smith

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