For Father's Day, each of my 8 children contributed the princely sum of $25 so that I could purchase an i Pod. This is an unlikely gift for a 65-year-old who used to constantly berate "yutes" for listening to those things seemingly 24/7, with no regard to the "existential realities" going on around them. Our culture is already too isolationist and self-absorbed. I Pods, for me, signal the end of civilization as we know it.
And besides: when would I ever use the thing? A lot of old people like me use it while jogging at the gym. But I use that time for saying my rosary...the i Pod would interfere with my already bedraggled prayer life. In the car? But I have XM Radio. Over 125 channels covering every possible taste. At home? After all my lectures about listening to an i Pod in the presence of another with whom meaningful dialogue might ensue? It would be hypocritical. "T'will gather dust," or so I thought.
Fortunately for me, my son Nathaniel set the unit up on the computer. If such an enterprise depended on me, the unit now would indeed be rather dusty. It started simply enough. One short organ Toccata by Widor. One song to which, surprisingly, I listened to again and again. I must say, I was proud of myself for at least getting it on the unit. Best 99 cents I ever spent.
But even Widor gets old after 45 renditions. So lo and behold, there was this entire album: The Last Night of the Proms. Only $9.99! 15 songs by the BBC Orchestra. Well, at least I'll have something more than Widor to listen to. And so I did it. A few buttons and my American Express bill was just a little bit heavier. OOO, so easy. Too easy.
I was finding I had lots of opportunites to listen to the thing. But then again, one cannot live on "God Save the Queen" forever.! More exploration on what was becoming my favorite place to shop, the iTunes Store, opened up a whole new world of opportunities. And presently, in less than 6 weeks, I sit with $114.00 on my American Express card and 20% of my "gigs" used up. I was getting hooked...no...I am hooked!
And what do I use it for? Well, it has become a dandy aid to my prayer life, oddly enough. I pray the Office and have spiritual reading selections each day and so:
I have the monks of Solemns Abbey chanting Gregorian during Morning Prayer.
For my "spirtual reading," The Roots of Christian Mysticism by Clement), I listen to the the energetic chanting of a choir of monks from a Russian Orthodox Monastery. You haven't lived until you have heard the bass line sung by a Russian Orthodox monk. It defies description!
Evening prayer has become a real delight. I have two albums of "New Age" music by Steven Halpern. They are designed for peaceful yoga meditation, but, heck. Throw a little holy water on them and claim them for Christ, I say! Since the electronic piano and organ is generally centered around one note, I can chant the psalms and create some pretty good harmonies. (Why is it that my wife frowns when she walks past? I'm having a great time.)
And even though it probably violates some law, I find myself listening to my array of 44 Country hits when behind the wheel. (Allison Kraus, Toby Keith and even a couple of Willie Nelsons, et al.)
So there you have it. My true confession. Who would have thought that this device would be such a vital part of my life? I only hope that this blog might be read by the holy monks on Mt. Athos. With an i Pod they could make such quantum leaps in their prayer life!