My Life Flows On

I sat in the pew of a large Mennonite church in rural Bucks County.   That space of even careful rows was a world away from my small urban Mennonite church, where we sit in concentric circles on chairs that can be moved aside for dancing on the wood floor.

I was attending the funeral service for the mother of one of  my daughter’s best friends.   We had come together that day from  different congregations to form a unique body – a gathering to celebrate Becky’s life.  Becky was vibrant and active, generous with her love and a bulldog for peace and justice.

Becky was also a lover of music; her service was filled with instrumentals, solos, duets, and congregational singing.   As we sang My Life Flows On, I quieted my voice, closed my eyes and listened.  Even now two weeks later I feel my heart open as I return to that space of sound, and of presence.   Our differences don’t exist; we are singing together, creating solid, pure and true harmony, the sopranos dependent on the altos dependent on the tenors dependent on the bass.  In that moment I am five years old and 15 years old – I am 30 and 44 and 53.  I feel the security of the church I felt as a child as well as the pain of ostracism in my mid-years and also the knowing that when we sing together we move to a place beyond judgment.   In that moment we care more about expressing what is in our  hearts and sharing in our mutual desire to make harmony than we care about who is sinning.  We are confident in our ability to create this sacred space together; I can hear it in the voices around me and in my own.  I find myself leaning towards the woman beside me, to better hear our voices blend.  As a body we listen to each other and, without thinking,

we adjust –

we tune –

we transform.

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7 Comments

  1. Hedy Reese

     /  November 20, 2012

    Tina-so, so true! Thanks so much for these thoughts!

    Reply
  2. melody schaper

     /  November 20, 2012

    Ahhhhhh, beautiful Tina.

    Reply
  3. You’ve crafted this post with a lovely simplicity that, for me, reflects the spaces and solid rhythm of Becky’s life. Newer dance-steps, beloved hymns and folk music, world percussion beats, and ancient tides and surf wove through her life and heart with a steadiness that’s unique in this world. We’ll long be adjusting to the space where she was, but I’m hopeful that I’ll keep Becky’s spirit alive in me through transformations in which she’ll have already had a part. Her alto part is still singing…

    Reply
  4. oh Tina, I am taken to my own parents’ funerals… the absolute unity of souls singing together — from women with bonnets and cape dresses to women with butch-short haircuts, to men likely horrified by the free expression around them to those who rode the emotional waves like pros. Music creates a judgement-free zone, doesn’t it?? Thank you for this post!

    Reply
  5. Audrey A. Metz

     /  November 30, 2012

    You could have been writing about my friend, Eileen’s memorial held in a Mennonite church in rural Bucks County just a week ago tomorrow. It, too, was a service of beautiful music, lots of laughter and tears. I could almost hear her laughing along with us!

    Reply

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