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The Still or 'Pause'

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The StillMaria Rosa
00:00 / 04:26

Lyrics: James Cornell

Composer, Vocalist, Instrumentalist: Maria Rosa

Photographer, Video Creator via Vimeo, Co-producer: Maria Rosa

Sound Engineer & Co-Producer: Brent Hodgkins, Warrior Records Music Recording Studio

This song speaks to the experience of living with the threat of COVID-19, an experience similar to the disorientation which can occur in other times of transition or experiences which throw one into a Dark Night of the Soul comparable to that of which St John of the Cross wrote. The song laments loss of a settled yet ultimately illusory outer status quo.

Management of this global pandemic without vaccines has involved strong movement restrictions; isolation from acquaintances, friends and loved ones; avoidance of physical touch without protective equipment; social distancing while engaging in essential tasks; mandatory wearing of masks and sanitizing; deep cleaning; reliance on social platforms such as Zoom and a sense of loss of freedom amplified by great uncertainty. Fearing losing repositories of wisdom, First Nations peoples proactively formed ARKS to safeguard the lives of their elders.

Agreeing to the discipline of being comparatively still - stilling previously standard/normal face-to-face ways of interacting and connecting with others - has demanded intention, attention and strong commitment. The Desert Fathers and Mothers of old may have described it as a 'discipline of the heart' in which the wellbeing of others plays a central compelling role. In the Australian state of Victoria, the ensuing declaration of a State of Emergency followed previous thresholds of drought and horrific summer bushfires particularly in East Gippsland. Folks in Aged Care in Melbourne died separated from significant others. Like elsewhere in the world, burial of COVID-19 victims had to proceed without the witnessing, brace and comfort of standard interpersonal farewells. Recovery thus can be multi-layered.


Amid the stripping down such discipline of the heart required, the basics of shelter, food, drink and human connection beyond mere transactions emerged anew as paramount. The premise of the ‘mateship’ code – caring for others’ needs alongside our own in times of trouble – has proven to be an all-encompassing safety-net vital to survival and nascent quality of life. This code has thankfully largely held and prompted heartfelt gratitude from many. ‘Seeing’ the humanity of others towards their fellow citizens has proven to be both needed and redemptive. It has brought the possibility of confirming personal and communal acknowledgement of elements which compose safety, a condition necessary for sharing our common humanity. In the song, safety and acceptance is captured by the lyrics ‘in the heaven of your eyes’.

The reference to daybreak in the song represents life-giving insights and celebrates the promise of youthful hope in our hearts. Within this promise, we can catch glimpses of the meaning within Desmond Tutu’s words: 'Hope is being able to see that there is light despite the darkness.' Such transformative light can dispel the confusing and confronting darkness brought upon by illness; fear of health system collapse; loss; grief; job uncertainty; threat to life; frustrating ongoing lockdowns and dissolution of much anticipated plans. Our mortality and the ultimate fragility of life can stare us in the face. The lyrics writer James Cornell suffered privation of possibilities and strongly assertive limitations via a congenital heart condition which proved undiagnosed for most of his life. Even as a teenager, he wondered why, despite all his hours of practice, he could never beat his best mate in swimming competitions! Yet, despite ongoing uncertainty regarding what was happening, he – in his longing and faith - embraced life fully.

                                                                                                                   Song composed during 174 days of Lockdown




I would like to acknowledge my singing teacher Elizabeth Macris (Sr Eleanor Mary Macris RSC, AM) who died July 2, 2012. Her wonderful human spirit and love of music blessed me. Even after she was no longer my teacher, she maintained a lively interest in my development as a singer and songwriter, an interest I highly valued. She celebrated my creativity and encouraged me to keep growing into the fullness of my voice and potential. Vale dear Sister. Alongside Rod Cameron OSA and James Cornell, you have been inspirational in my embrace of the nourishing gift music can be.

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