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STORIES are everywhere
I sing in a peace choir. We practice in a church and the whole thing takes me back to the days of my childhood when I would go to church on Sundays, and people would greet each other at the entrance hall, some would have conversation some would not, but all would slide into the benches for an hour of spiritual contemplation and uplift. I don’t remember the sermons, not a one of them, but I do remember the singing of hymns. The warm vibration of my mother’s voice next to me traveling through my body, joining with all the voices around me. I don’t remember the words of the hymns but I do remember the power of the sound that traveled through the church as the voices attuned in tone and rhythm, supported by the organ, and formed a moment of mysterious connection.
This last Valentine’s day four choirs gathered in an old church in Portland, complete with wooden benches, stained glass windows, an organ and that unmistakable rich polished wood smell of an old, well maintained building, solid in stone. We sang, we showed off our artistic musical prowess, sharing our messages of peace, care for the earth, and struggle for freedom. We avoided religious, church themes (we are secular choirs), standing there on the pulpit platform of the old church. We sang, blending, harmonizing, listening to the voices next to us for tone and rhythm. For a few hours we let ourselves blend with others. It is a most intimate thing a group of people can do. To rise above opinion, political views, domination and subjugation, to rise above the dynamics of relationship in a sharing of sound.
Sound is with most of us all the time. We are delighted by the sound of a loved one’s voice, we are bothered by the insistent traffic rhythm outside our building, we lose ourselves in the rushing of the ocean waves, the tinnitus in our ears. Sound is our key to feeling connected or feeling distant and alone. With modern technology we can hear sound over great distances. Sound travels when we can’t. The sound of our voices are a tonal gift that keeps on giving, that connects us on a mysterious wavelength. It wasn’t the words of our song, it wasn’t the church, it wasn’t the director waving his arms around, it was over a hundred bodies standing together letting out sound in harmony, attuned, listening to each other. The sound traveled in the great arches of that old church bouncing back to us in a warm, rounded timbre, an echo of our longing, a gift of love to ourselves as humans. A gift that reverberates in us for awhile. It was truly a day of romance.
Since last Sunday I have been listening more to the voices, the sounds around me, and letting myself have that intimacy of sharing tonality, the blending of mysterious waves that connect me with others. The spirit of Valentine's lives on.