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Monday, July 4, 2011

Bedrocks, Long notes, and the Rational Jesus

I am a soprano.  I adore long notes.  I love the way they echo in a room, the way they fade away gradually, sometimes to start again, sometimes just to end in silence.  Perhaps I hold them a little too long on occasion, perhaps things slow down because I do...but that's not always a bad thing.

We live in a world that slows down for nothing and no one.  Daily, we find our tasks made faster by technology, yesterday's work becomes redundant and obsolete, the pace that satisfied yesterday is no longer sufficient.  At some point, we can no longer keep up, and we become harried and stressed, forever behind and forever trying to reach some distant island of stability that is little more than a proverbial carrot dangling in the distance.

We miss so much because of this. There are opportunities lost to us, pleasures and gifts from God that are bypassed in our pursuit of this imagined happiness, this secular satisfaction that is, at best, only a vague descendant of what the generations before us knew to be necessary.  We have lost our sense of fulfillment.

I mention this because I've lost three very important people this year.  I would go so far as to say these three individuals formed me in ways that no one else did or can do, and while I believe they all knew their importance in my life, I can no longer go to them and tell them, in person, what they have given me, that sense of vocation, an idea of what is important in life and how to obtain it.   The three are my grandmother, Mr. Jesse Walker, and Father Martin Kelly.

My grandmother taught me to be an original, gave me a general sense of tenacity, and taught me the meaning of unconditional love. She gave birth to my mother, who in turn gave birth to me, the gift of life from God Himself accepted and cherished, nurtured and encouraged, sent out into a world that may not respect it, but must acknowledge it.  My belief in God came through this maternal line, my character was formed by the society that was established around it, and it was a wonderful thing to be part of this family, to have this bedrock beneath me as I began life on my own.

Jesse Walker was a familiar sight to me long before he became my teacher.  All of my siblings had been in the Worth County music programs, as had my mother and several of hers.  This man was a teacher like no other. He thought nothing of driving miles to pick us up and take us home.  He lectured, he teased, he cajoled, and he taught music...such music!!  There were the obligatory marches, there was Wagner, there was Verdi.  He introduced me to jazz.  He taught me the importance of breathing, the importance of simply drawing in breath and exhaling it...something so necessary to life as to be vital to music as to studied.  Life and music intertwined, the breath of one becoming the voice of the other.

I married, I moved away, landing in the wilds of New Hampshire, there to encounter Father Martin Kelly, who (I mentioned this before) asked me if I was alright with Jesus, and from that singular spot led me into the world of Catholicism, with its beauty and ritual, its explanations for all of those things seen and unseen, those things hoped for...lovely things that we may not always understand but simply believe through Faith.  He gave me an understanding of eternity, the timelessness of it found in the Mass, the foretaste of it in the Eucharist, the sound of it echoing through chant...the human voice, drawing in breath, releasing it again in the exquisite sound that has carried across the ages to provide solace, beauty and faith to those of us who dwell still in this life, awaiting our opportunity to greet once more those who have entered into the fullness of Faith with Our Lord, Our Lady, and all the Angels and Saints in Heaven.

In paradisum deducant te angeli
In tuo adventu suscipiant te martyres
Et perducant te in civitatem sanctorem Ierusalem
Chorus angelorum te suscipiat
Et cum Lazaro quondam paupere
Aeternam habeas requiem.

May God grant them peace.  May they pray for us.  May they sing with us in all the eternal moments left to us in this life. Amen.

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