“Where will I come out if I go through the park?” asked an old man, so softly I almost didn’t notice him. I thought for a moment and offered my conclusion. “Are you reading music?” he asked. My coloured notebook had caught his eye. I have many such books, pasted full of Sri Chinmoy’s well-known songs. I often carry them with me as I walk, to ensure these precious songs stay well-known to me.
“Yes,” I replied, tilting the page with a smile.
“What sort of music?” he asked, hushed, leaning gently over as if discovering something scarce and sacred.
“These are all spiritual songs, written by Sri Chinmoy.”
There are many long Bengali songs in there, but the page was open at a simple English one. He touched the book lightly as he read, captivated. “Could you sing it for me?” he asked earnestly, but frowning as if half expecting to be refused.
Wales is known as the Land of Song. Although I live in the capital city, people are warm and inquisitive, in a childlike way that is rare in this age. It is natural to be trusting and familiar here, where people seem to assume the roles of distant relatives.
Before I gave myself a chance to be shy, I sang right there on the street corner to this complete stranger, “Many, many lives ago, God taught me how to love Him, and how to serve Him, unconditionally.”
Gripping my hand and looking into me in silence, he was visibly moved by the song’s message. “It’s beautiful,” he said in time, as if he had never heard the like of it.
He introduced me to his granddaughter, a sleeping cherub in a pram. Her name is Welsh for “lovable,” he said, proudly explaining the Latin and English equivalents. He has dedicated his life to preserving Welsh heritage, especially language and music. He works in a museum, and on Sundays he feeds the homeless at church.
“I write poetry,” he said, as if the fact itself needed no adornment.
“So do I!” I said delightedly. “Writing is my favourite thing!”
“Really! Have you published?”
“No, no! I’m only just beginning. Have you?”
“Yes, thirteen books in Welsh. I was a composer for a while too.”
He asked me about my life. I talked about Sri Chinmoy, about Run and Become, and a little about what our Centres try to offer to the world. He seemed profoundly heartened to find that there is a whole spiritual community that he had never heard of, loving God and trying to be of service to humanity.
He took my hand and shook it with feeling. “Such a surprise to see a young woman walking along our streets learning spiritual songs. God bless you.”
“And you.” I said, smiling, although we were both evidently blessed already. “What a beautiful life you have.”
He taught me a prayer from the Romany language he studies in his spare time. I can’t remember it now, but his goodness I remember, and his parting words: “Of course the most important song is the song in our heart.”
“Yes!” I said, my whole being in thrilled surprise and affirmation, “We must listen to it more and more.”