What a month it’s been. I know most of you are feeling as emotionally and mentally drained as I am. And I hope and pray you are not sick with this Corona Virus, COVID – 19.
I was at my church a few days ago, which is where our boys rehearse each week, and I realized how much I missed the sounds and experiences of our ‘normal’ times there. We are streaming Sunday services and other meetings, so I was preparing and rehearsing with our organist the upcoming Sunday service music and while I sat and listened to her play, it suddenly hit me how much I miss all of this.
I also miss morning coffee at Starbucks with a friend of mine and of course I miss movies in a crowded theater as I love to see movies. But I miss most of all the rehearsing and singing with our boys.
I am not here to evaluate the success of social distancing and “flattening the curve” . . . but rather to discuss the grief that so many of us haven’t quite had the chance to name just yet. I’m betting it hasn’t registered in the minds of all my choir boys either. But I can feel it and I know as the days turn into weeks and even months, it’s going to become all the more poignant.
The very heart of what I and my staff do is make music with the boys and not being able to do that is, in a word, ‘saddening’ at many levels.
As we are told on all fronts that we need to halt our work and to distance ourselves from one another, we are faced with an uncomfortable reality: The exact thing that we are asked to discontinue is also the exact thing that we so desperately need for ourselves in these uncertain times.
So yes, we’re grieving the loss of our rehearsals, concerts and the work that has been put into those things, but we are also grieving the temporary loss of our art forms and our personal solace. Even if you are not as keenly aware of that grief just yet, I know the boys are feeling it – or will be feeling it in the very near future. And just like any grief and any loss, it is important to acknowledge it and to recognize it for what it is.
I am desperately missing making music with the boys. I am mourning the temporary loss of my community and concerned of what the future holds for us all. Honestly, I don’t quite know how to cope with such uncertainty without music making because I’ve never had to do it before! Thank goodness for my piano and small pipe organ here at home.
I have started a webcast that I will be sending to the boys on a regular basis and decided to be transparent and as honest as I can be with them without giving them excuses or false promises . . . what I will not do is be silent with them!
What I will do is remind them that we are still a musical community and will sing together again; that they can always reach out to me for help or to talk and that the music will be here waiting for them when we get back.
When I was about six or seven and I would hear about scary things in the news, my mother would always say to me something like Fred Rogers has said, “Look for the helpers . . . you will always find people who are helping and that should make you feel better”. Especially these days, I am cognizant and thankful for all the many helpers throughout this situation we find ourselves faced with.
I leave you with a story that sums up all that I am feeling and have shared with you above and this reminder . . . set aside some time each day to simply make some music!
“A story is told about boys of all ages orphaned in England during World War II. The bombings left many boys alone and starving in the streets or, if they were fortunate, taken to refugee camps. There, they received decent care, food, medical help, and a safe place to stay. Even so, many of the boys, especially the younger ones, could not sleep at night. They tossed and turned, staring wide-eyed into the night, worried they would hear the scream of bombs or experience again the loneliness of the streets.
Over and over the boys were promised they were safe, but nothing worked until one of the psychologists tending to the boys tried something a bit unusual. He gave them small pieces of bread to take to bed with them. It worked. Clutching the bread tightly in their hands, the boys were finally able to sleep soundly, knowing that their hands held the promise of food for the morning and therefore, hope for the future.”
When we stare in wide-eyed worry at the dark ceiling, what do we reach for? When we toss and turn, what is it that calms you?
May we each find our own piece of bread to hold on to.