"So often if we talk about religion, words get in our way. But if we sit in silence and sing, the doors of our hearts begin to open in trust and hope." -Brother Roger of Taize
Ode to Joy by Kayleen Asbo Our ancestors from the past knew that relentless tragedy could also be the beginning of transformation , could become paint on the cave wall, song in a scarred throat the drumming heartbeat of a dance of lamentation that would lead us to a deeper truth.
I think of that long scream of terror that opens the last movement of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, the cacophonous descent that signals the end of the world and how the orchestra tries so valiantly to recapture the past recapitulating one theme after another from the first three movements.
How each time, the Greek Chorus of the orchestra says:
"No. This will not do. We cannot go back to where we have already been. And that moment --when all seems lost in utter chaos and darkness-- how slowly, tentatively, ever so gently emerging from the soft underbelly of the strings is the simplest of tunes-- Childlike, almost embarrassing in its utter transparency and open-hearted vulnerability
And how the goosebumps rise upon my neck as the melody begins its sure ascent Higher Higher Until it blazes with triumph, blossoming into the Ode to Joy, Shattering all notions of what a symphony should be What a symphony could be.
I wonder if Beethoven, gripped with liver disease and completely deaf knew as he flailed his swollen hands that his agony had opened the door to a new vision for the entire human race.
I imagine how his sad eyes would open wide with wonder If he could see his simple tune sung at Auschwitz, as Chinese students faced tanks in Tiananman Square, if he could hear it sung at the fall of the Berlin Wall, and see the choirs all across the world after 911 uniting the world into his lifelong dream: a chorus of common, shared humanity.
How he would weep to know that in this time of darkness When touch is forbidden When we are locked in isolation It is the notes he could not even hear anymore That weave us together in loving embrace.
Let us sing with all we have in us no matter what storms rage all around, and know this in our bones: If a deaf and dying man (who believed his whole life was a failure) could give birth to such miraculous starshine as this, surely, surely, there is still hope for us all.
In a Circle Six Feet Apart in Town Park by Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer Perhaps we stumbled on the words, perhaps we forgot a note, forgot a bridge, bumbled our entrances, fumbled our parts, but we sang, oh yes, we sang into the low golden light of summer, sang because joy, because harmony, sang because lonely, because fear, sang because, tears spilling down our cheeks, we could sing, oh friends, before we said goodbye, we could sing.