Monday, August 15, 2005

Then Sings My Soul...

God definitely has a sense of humor. I spent the weekend vocalising, reading, writing and going for long walks in the park. Awkward time to sing since the throat has been a bit sore with swollen glands for a week now, so I didn't talk between warm-up sessions. By the way, I found a book of Sacred Songs which I'd bought last year for a class and it had "How Great Thou Art" so there was no need to go to the library for the music. The illustration next to the page with the hymn was a b&w woodcut of a stand of pines during a thunderstorm with lightening streaking the sky. I found that just an hour or so before our thunderstorm hit the neighborhood! ( cue twilight zone music)

I got up early to meditate and warm up the voice before heading out to the church a few towns up. Without a minute to spare and nerves starting to tingle with anticipation, I ran to the car, opened the door, sat down and yelped as I quickly got out again. The back of my dress was now wet in the few spots that made full contact with the seat before I jumped out. The sunroof was open an inch or so...and had been during the second storm Sunday night, so the front seats were completely sopping wet and the little tray between the seats was a pool of water. Oh no! I started to laugh and realized this was so surprising that now I couldn't be nervous about the funeral. Ran back in and found a large black plastic garbage bag. Ran back to the car, put it on the front seat and sat down. Not a good feeling. Had to touch the surface under me a few times to be sure it was solid plastic between me and the watery seat. It felt cold and wet anyway.

The church was closed despite the fact that the organist told me to be there an hour early so we can go over the music together. Doors opened 25 minutes before start time. He was already inside. The air conditioning was set at freezing and the blower was over the choir loft. Not good. I had on a black and white sleeveless sundress, with little black sandles. Not very warm. I had brought a mug of hot tea with me, but that was cold within 10 minutes of opening the top. I went back to the car and got the thin, white, cotton cardigan I'd brought "just in case." Then he told me the parish priest didn't allow the "Our Father" to be sung in church apart from its place in the service. What next? After much discussion (persuasion) and a sing-through, the organist said, "Let's just do it and if they didn't want it played they can tell me afterward." Worked for me.

The funeral began on time, but we were freezing in the choir loft It is such a joy to feel the voice arc over the space and fill the church with music. I was worried every time I had to clear my throat between songs, and praying the voice would come out despite the chill. When the organist told me he was going to sing a hymn while the priest said final prayers by the coffin (before I sang the exit song), I smiled and prepared to listen. He started out ok, with just a little frog in his throat. By the third line he was coughing. Sang a few more notes and coughed some more. People started looking up behind them to see what was going on. I took a step further back and hugged myself to stay warm for the last piece. He coughed, lost his voice, and finished by just playing the organ. There but for the grace of God, was my fate. Thankfully, the finale was great. Hearts soared. The funeral was over. My friend and her family were very grateful. My fingernails were blue with cold, my throat scratcy, my car seat still wet and I had to rush back to work at the office to resume my other identity, but it was a good day. As each song was sung, the music soothed us all. At least for the moment....

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