A song to sing your fears away

Paradisaea #6 // Happy Slumber -warp
Quad blend: 30 % cotton, 33 % linen, 27 % wool, 10 % mulberry silk
Pebble weave
3,6 metres, 330 g/m2
Weft: BC Garn's Colori in black
Tapered ends, hemmed rails

(Liinan tarina suomeksi tämän linkin takana)

Human beings have sang to their children probably as long as there have been songs to sing. Our ancestors have carried their children while wandering, babies swinging in the rhythm of their footsteps, kilometres passing with singing and humming, children swaying somewhere in between sleep and consciousness. I guess most of us have done the same at some point: wandered in the dead of night from a room to another with a child in our arms, swaying slightly, murmuring songs of comfort in the hazy borderlands of sleep, songs found in our collective human psyche. 

The voice of the mother is the first music a baby hears in the womb. After birth it most likely remains for a while the only fixed point that brings sense and safety to the baby's chaotic experience or a chaotic world. The songs and the words, the rhymes and the sounds that the baby has heard during her time in the womb become profound memories - they become ingrained in her understanding of the world, primitive unconscious memories. They carry the knowledge of being safe and of being comforted.

There's power in music: some studies have shown that music can even ease pain. Children don't sense so much pain when someone is making music with them.

Maybe our foremothers knew this. It might be a basic human instinct to sing to a frustrated and anxious baby, to pick her up and murmur a soft tone. Slowly the baby will learn that being carried and sang to means being safe. The millions of nursery rhymes and songs around the world testify to this.  

I find it fascinating that people remember their childhood songs so long and so well. Sometimes the memory of music stays when most of other memories already fade away. I used to work as a (evangelic-lutheran) pastor, and sometimes got to visit people suffering from dementia in nursery homes. It was powerful to witness how someone who has lost practically all touch with reality might suddenly start singing when we sang a familiar hymn or said a familiar prayer. Music and the familiar rhythm of words was able to penetrate trough the thick wall of forgetfulness and suddenly we shared a common experience. There's a wonderful documentary that speaks of this exact phenomenon and is well worth watching: Alive Inside.

My parents sang to me when I was a kid. I still remember the songs - melodies even better than words. It was clear to me that I wanted to do the same with my kids. They tolerate it fairly well, only on the daytime the Big Kid sometimes grimaces and says momma don't sing! In the evenings he lets me do it, though. The moments have become precious to me. Our firstborn is quite an independent spirit, strong-willed and wonderfully feisty, and his need for cuddling is remarkably low. In the evenings he however often wants to snuggle a bit, says mom, will you lay beside me? and lets me murmur our evening song to him. It's a hymn from the Finnish hymn book, number 397, and it has become something like the theme song of our life. Roughly translated the words of the first verse say When your safety is in God / you are better sheltered / than a bird under its mother's wing / like a star in the sky.

For some reason this particular hymn made a big impact on me when I was a child. The idea of stars tucked warmly under clouds and chicks safely under their mother's wings brought an almost painful joy to me. I wanted to see if I could transfer at least a fraction of that feeling to my kids. Only time will tell what these songs will mean for them. In the meanwhile I sing, and I understand that I'm singing for myself too. These words and chords still resonate with me and I sing because it helps me with my fears - a part of me still remembers how it felt to be a child and have no worries.

I thought about all this when I was weaving the 6th Paradisaea wrap; A Song To Sing Your Fears Away. At its best, a wrap is one of those places of absolute comfort and of calming songs - the place where the music of the mother's voice is heard. I wish and pray that this wrap could become a vessel of safety too.