Staggered Breathing

A choir, an orchestra, and a conductor are rehearsing on a stage. In front of the musicians, there are red chairs in an auditorium. Large organ pipes are behind the musicians.

I’m a musician, and these days, I find a particular musical technique to be a helpful metaphor for personal and community sustainability. I want to offer a quote from Michael Moore about this:

“This morning I have been pondering a nearly forgotten lesson I learned in high school music. Sometimes in band or choir, music requires players or singers to hold a note longer than they actually can hold a note. In those cases, we were taught to mindfully stagger when we took a breath so the sound appeared uninterrupted. Everyone got to breathe, and the music stayed strong and vibrant… [In] “protest fatigue” – we will literally lose our will to continue the fight in the face of the onslaught of negative action. Let’s remember MUSIC. Take a breath. The rest of the chorus will sing. The rest of the band will play. Rejoin so others can breathe. Together, we can sustain a very long, beautiful song for a very, very long time. You don’t have to do it all, but you must add your voice to the song. With special love to all the musicians and music teachers in my life.”

We go through rhythms of action, rest, play, showing up, taking space away, living in solidarity, honoring the Sabbath… practicing presence with one another and our own bodies and minds, we rest within and act upon deepest values that undergird our lives.

We all take turns.
Our rest is beneficial for our community.
Our action is beneficial for our community.

Renee Roederer

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