Thursday, July 28, 2011

Just Breathe.

I found myself sitting between the two grand wings of a rather majestic pipe organ.
It was just a few days ago, and I had returned to the Cathedral of Christ the King in Atlanta to do a little rehearsing. You see, one of my very best and oldest friends - one of my Chica Mias, as I like to call them, or my flying buttresses - is getting MARRIED on Saturday. Isn't it divine?
Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! It is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come:
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.
-Shakespeare's Sonnet 116

(Okay. Yes. I just wrote out Shakespeare. But the man has a point, no?)
Anyway, when we were about 10 years old, singing together in that very loft as part of the Cathedral Children's Choir, I made a promise to Jess that I would sing Schubert's Ave Maria at her wedding. And now the "nuptial hour draws on apace!"
Thus I found myself up there. Between rows of giant bronze-colored pipes that were humming and singing and echoing and bellowing. And breathing. It was like sitting right between the two massive lungs of a quite powerful and venerable god of music.
And I didn't even think it- but more felt it (as these things usually happen). Just the power of music; the rich sound, like audible molasses, that pours out of those pipes, that has the ability to lift you up and carry you away and mold your mind into reverence or reflection or celebration.
And as I took deep breaths to fill my own lungs-which rather pale in comparison- to send forth notes in a centuries-old arrangement, I thought about how, on Saturday, those notes will soar over the rows and rows of people (thank you, brilliant architects, for your truly magical gift at acoustics - Lord knows I couldn't do it without you). And some will think of Mary, and some will think of Schubert, and some will think of their own wedding, or the wedding of the one-that-got-away, or the wedding that is to be. And some might think of me. But most will think of Jess.
And isn't it remarkable that something as intangible as music can create such a strong sensation, and unspoken thoughts that link humanity? What beautiful revelations are waiting to be made just by sitting in a church and breathing?

Maybe it's true, what St. John the Divine in New York City says: "Loud Pipes Save Lives."

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