Wednesday, July 8, 2015

A Healing Song

Today, I will attend a viewing for the father of one of my clients, a healthy, robust man in his 70's struck down by a car accident. Yesterday, a sweet, loving soul from my church passed away from complications of recent heart surgery. She was in her 40's. Such is the arbitrary, fragile nature of this life. In ways random and relentless, death stuns us. Even when we expect it, anticipate it, death stuns.

So, I listen to music. Not just any music, but the soft gentle harmonies of accapella singing. Other music is better for celebrations. Sometimes it's the clever story telling of country music. Other times, rock and roll is what I need. It's the brooding symphonies of Beethoven when I need to think, Ella Fitzgerald and Frank Sinatra when I want to relax, Manheim Steamroller when I'm wrapping Christmas presents. But when I'm sad, and the specter of loss hangs over me, only the tender sound of the human voice will do.

Last month was a month of loss for me. June will, for the rest of my life, be the month that my parents died. This year was the first anniversary of Dad's passing and it weighed on me. One night I was sifting through old pictures and videos on my iPad when I found a video from 2013. Patrick's college choir of choice, The Chamber Singers, had been on tour and we had hosted them for a raucous dinner at our house. Before they left, I asked their leader, Deen Entsminger, if he would lead them in a performance of  their signature song, Lonesome Road by James Taylor. There they were, a bunch of energetic kids who had travelled 600 miles by bus earlier in the day, but still full of passion and silliness, all crammed into our overcrowded family room. Deen held out his hand and took a long, deep breath. For the next three minutes, a soulful sound filled the house and the hearts of everyone in it. The harmonies were tight and seamless, the execution flawless, which allowed us all to hear, really and truly hear the lyrics:

              Walk down that lonesome road all by yourself, 
               Don't turn your head back over your shoulder.
                 And only stop to rest yourself when the silver moon
                  is shining high above the trees.....

If my house accomplishes nothing else, it will have been the home of that three minutes. Last night I learned that my mother-in-law had taken a nasty tumble, breaking her elbow. Her face was bruised and scraped. She had needed stitches to close a wound. She had tripped on an unseen landscaping log in the dark leaving her dear friend's house after bringing a meal. Before going to bed last night, I listened again.

When we don't know what to pray, God sends music.