Dear Sor Juana,
Spent the weekend singing sessions entitled Rehearsing for Heaven with a horde of other aspirants in four-part harmony with rain providing percussion and the urn bubbling in the corner offering occasional counterpoint.
I had visited a friend in a hospice earlier in the day so thinking about what rehearsing for heaven might look and sound like was in real-time. When my father was dying I was keen to point out to others and myself that this was not a rehearsal and there was no point waiting for the curtains to open (or close) for the next act, but to get up onto that stage and say the words to be said, sing the songs to be sung. Practising can be a luxury we don’t always have, yet we are constantly being apprenticed to our own disappearance (as David Whyte has so eloquently put it).
Singing in harmony so we hold each other’s voices in the mesh of notes that forms a safety net should one of our singular sounds stray. Maybe heaven is the place where we can all find our voice and where the inclusion of our note makes the song complete? Simple melodies set to the rhythms of heart beat, walking pace and sometimes with an ache, blend magically under the careful and precise instruction of a master craftsman. I am prompted to think about the harmonics I might offer in other parts of life. A surround sound cloud forms and has all the potential to find its way to the sky and when I close my eyes it is possible I have indeed been rehearsing for heaven.
Seems to me everything we do is preparation for the next steps we take – it’s just we don’t always know that at the time. If this weekend’s music is anything to go by, then I hope I am going to be surrounded by more angels, and look to an instructor who can give me a note to follow and help me keep me the tune offered to my part in the great chorus of humanity. The oos and the ahhs and oomphs syncopate and lighten the load giving me a skip and lift in familiar and surprising ways. More singing is definitely on the agenda while I rehearse for heaven.