by Jan Novotka
Scranton, PA: Jan Novotka's Music, LLC (ASCAP), 2007
1 CD-Rom, 73 minutes
To order visit Jan Novotka's Website
Reviewed by Gail Worcelo, SGM
Awakening Consciousness is accurately named: indeed through lyric and song we are invited to the awareness that in our current time "…consciousness is awaking as One" (song 12). Listening to Jan Novotka’s CD is like stepping outside in the early morning on the first, brisk fall day and feeling both a charge and change of season in the air. The seventeen arrangements, though simple in form, invite the listener into a profound shift in consciousness.
I have choreographed a dance for retreat groups to Novotka’s first piece on Consciousness Waking. In this mantra like arrangement there is urgency to her words: "Now is the time. We are the space for the Holy to rise in our midst" (song 1). One senses that this new consciousness is breaking through humanity as a whole, moving us from a dual to a unified perspective, a dance we need to engage in together. Indeed, the only way the planet is going to recover from the current assault on its life systems and move forward in an integral way is if we begin to "Live as one with the whole" (song 3).
Novotka’s piece entitled, "Waking as One" (song 12) could offer spiritual directors the challenge to break open their direction sessions. They could move from a focus on the personal situation of the directee to a vast transformation of consciousness for the sake of the entire evolutionary process. In the lyrics we hear: "You and I are transformed, something greater is born. Ego self is diminishing. Consciousness awaking as One!" (song 12). These lyrics point to the relinquishment of the ego, understood as our profoundly self-centered relationship to life. The ego manifests in both gross and subtle ways, inhibiting our participation in the life process. When awareness is trapped in the small realm of the ego’s fears and desires, it is impossible to be "Conscious of sacred Presence everywhere" (song 4).
Awakening Consciousness poses an enormous challenge to spiritual directors who need to make the cosmological leap in consciousness themselves. I asked my own spiritual director one day, "How do I awake?" Her response was, "Drop the I!" This is the point and counterpoint ofAwakening Consciousness as Novotka pushes beyond the boundaries of dual consciousness and invites her listeners to do the same, offering the awareness that consciousness can only evolve through each one of us.
Each piece poses a challenge for daily living. If we, "all share the same breath and essence" (song 7) and are "…living as One with the whole of life" (song 3), then this needs to translate into matters such as consideration for how the animals we eat are treated, where our food comes from and how it is grown, awareness of alternative green burial practices, and support of a local economy. Being awake also needs to manifest in the bolder corporate stances we take in relationship to the rights of all species to fulfil their role in the great community of existence, and in our care and consideration for the children of the future.
I highly recommend Awakening Consciousness and applaud Novotka’s courage in allowing the emerging consciousness to express itself through her music and song.
Gail Worcelo, SGM, is the co-founder of Green Mountain Monastery in Greensboro, Vermont, USA. For the past twenty-three years she has been a student of cultural historian and Teilhardian scholar Father Thomas Berry. This new twenty-first century Catholic monastery is dedicated to the evolution of consciousness and participation in bringing the Catholic tradition into its planetary and cosmological phase.