When I lived in Texas one of the most pleasant and life-changing experiences was singing in civic choruses and church choirs. Learning and performing the music, whether it was the classics of Bach, Mendelssohn or Haydn, or contemporary writers such as Rutter or Sondheim, was pure joy. It did not matter, I loved to sing it all - from gospel to Broadway tunes. Many times when we performed there were two particularly exciting moments.
The first is just prior to the beginning of each performance. There is a brief moment when the conductor raises the baton. The eyes of all performers, both singers and musicians in the pit, are on that conductor and the baton. For one brief moment there is total silence. The audience, too, waits with great expectation for what will happen in the next moment.
The second moment occurred at the very end of some breathtaking part in the performance, often the closing notes of the evening. As the last notes echoed through the auditorium there was often a brief moment when you could hear a pin drop. The singers and orchestra again are motionless with their eyes on the conductor, and the conductor is absolutely still. Everyone lives in that moment when the thrill and exhilaration of the music sink into the soul. Then the applause begins.
While I have used the silence at the beginning and ending of performances as examples, there is also another part of many of these performances that involves silence. The music dictionary shows the term "Grand Pause" to be "a rest for the entire ensemble."
Moments of silence are a part of the music.
For many of the major religions of the world, this week has been one of holy days. Passover is being commemorated again. The Christian and Orthodox faiths have observed Holy Week and will observe Easter this Sunday. The full moon signals another four-week cycle in other faiths. Many of us are in the middle of religious traditions that require vigilance and diligence to observe these special days and to prepare our homes and places of worship for these services. If we are not careful we will get so busy with the preparation that we will miss the meaning of our holy days.
I encourage each reader to take a moment to observe the moments of silence and the beginning and end of the day, or of the party, or worship service, or workday. Take in the sensations of the moment. Prepare for and reflect on what will happen or what has happened in the "performance" of your day or special moment.
We live in a most spectacularly beautiful place. Opportunities abound for taking in the moments of silence. Look for a moment at the beginning and end of your day to spend just one minute in silence. Train your attention on your soul, the conductor of your own performance. And during the day, when some event happens that brings about a "grand pause" and everything around you grows quiet, take the opportunity to breathe deeply, to renew and refresh your spirit before you move on into the next moment.
Whatever song you sing, whatever music you make in the world around you, remember, moments of silence are a part of the music.
Rev. Kim Poole is a minister at the Jubilee Community United Church.