I am struck, once again, by the rapidity with which thoughts can move and their corresponding feelings shift.
With tight-squeezed throat and damp eyes, I left the three-storey red-bricked former tobacco factory, wondering where I could feasibly weep.
Around the corner a couple of minutes later, I caught a glimpse of some graffiti art that broke me out of my mind and made me guffaw. Loudly. In. The. Street. It is impossible to melt into beautiful sadness when a funny thought crosses your mind. Try it for yourself and see what happens.
Ordinarily, I would’ve had no qualms about crying in public. I can be slightly brusque at times, but, I am also what a long-grey-haired, shaman-in-training grandmother once called a ‘wet-responder’; I cry at the drop of a hat. Movies move me. Stories, too. And music … well … often that’s where the most exquisite undoing comes.
Some sounds just catch me off-guard. They reach deep into my heart and wrench it. It’s a blissful breakdown, one my spirit welcomes. But it can be embarrassing for a teenage daughter to witness. ‘No crying this time’, she mouthed, and with good reason.
The last time I heard this particular piece performed I sat, eyes closed, silently bawling throughout.
We entered the circle of soft sheer curtains through an ethereal mist. In the centre was a ring of chairs, faced outwards, each with its own cushion. The silhouetted singers’ danced around the outside, before they came in to take their positions in this sound bath. Each singer stood in front of a chair. The chair I’d randomly chosen happened to be directly in front of where my daughter came to rest. My intention had been to sit anywhere but right in front of her …
The song rose, softly at first. Then stronger. Louder. And when the harmonies kicked in, they were so divine, I cracked wide open.
I had an inkling this might happen before I’d even sat down. In the waiting room, rectangles of paper welcomed listeners to ‘4 Cycles of Immersion’.
“The piece should last around 25 minutes and we ask you to consider remaining silent throughout … sobbing and sighs of appreciation excepted …”
“I’m in trouble now”, I thought. And I was. Bathed in beautiful trouble.
Tonight, as the young people sang I couldn’t help but think.
Though families had been invited to see this newly transformed room (a cavernous, yet cosy, nurturing space) the choir hadn’t prepared to sing for us. They hadn’t even rehearsed since before summer break!
So they winged it.
With a few pretend words, a raise of her brows and a flourish of hands, the choir leader gently reminded them of what they already knew. She drew the song out of them. With no other prep, bar a piped starting note, they were in full voice.
It was just as glorious this time round, only more so because of its spontaneity. The sound was crisp, mellifluous. It soared and swelled to fill the room, sending shivers down spines.
I couldn’t help but think how grateful I was that my daughter had found such a lovely community to belong to. I couldn’t believe how easily they all fell into their part, without missing a beat. No hesitation. No floundering. Just perfect melody and harmony.
I couldn’t help but think how lucky I was to be held in this aural embrace, to hear how wonderful gathered voices can be when led with confidence, love and trust.
May you gather your thoughts and catch the beauty among them this week.
Much Love, Angela xo