Music has carried me through every stage of my life; every painful or wonderful moment, every heartbreak or success.
I have a very vivid childhood memory of making up songs and singing them to myself while waiting for the school bus. My family used to sing in the car on road trips. I sing in traffic, in the shower, in prayer. I have preferred music for housecleaning, cooking, and certain holidays. I have sung to people I love as they were dying.
A friend of mine sings in the Threshold Choir, which she describes like this:
"The Threshold Choirs honor the ancient tradition of women singing at the bedsides of people who are struggling at life's thresholds: some with living, some with dying. We have sung for people who are dying, people who are recovering, people in comas, and those recovering from comas. We have sung for newborns in hospital intensive care units. We sing in pairs or small groups in hospices, hospitals, nursing homes, and private homes when we are invited by family or caregivers. Sometimes the family is present when we sing, and we sing as much for them as for the person who is in bed. The voice, as the original human instrument, is a true and gracious vehicle for compassion and comfort."
Hearing certain songs can transport me back to a very specific memory, a specific time, place or person. Singing has the capacity to evoke even more powerful feelings, plus it engages our bodies and our minds even more dynamically than just listening. In singing we embody the simultaneous physical sensations of breath and sound and vibration; we are listening to and feeling our own music, our rhythm.
Lullabies, ballads, gospel or experimental jazz or a heartwrenching bluesy ballad—we could all use a virtual Threshold Choir that sings us through the challenging, trivial and exhiliarating junctures of life.
"Why is it that music
At its most beautiful
Opens a wound in us
An ache a desolation
Deep as a homesickness
For some far-off
And half-forgotten country"
–excerpt from "Music" by Anne Porter