Monday, November 5, 2018

Not in Vain

If I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain;
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again,
I shall not live in vain.

These words, by American poet Emily Dickinson, form the basis of the third movement of Kim AndrĂ© Arnesen’s Requiem, which was performed by the GT County High School Chorus Sunday afternoon. Arnesen uses this poem almost as a replacement for the traditional Kyrie Eleison: Lord, Have Mercy.

Listening to the richness of the harmonies woven by the singing and orchestral playing opened my mind to thoughts of current affairs. I thought of the massacre at the Tree of Life Synagogue. I thought  of families separated from their children. How can we bear to live in such a world?

“If I can stop one heart from breaking...”

I thought of all the people I know here in Howard County who live this truth every day. The Community Action Council who invite us to join in their work to share Thanksgiving meals with those who would do without. The staff at hcpss’ Gateway School who make their students holidays brighter by organizing a Recycled Treasure Sale so they can get gifts for their families. Volunteers who give their time to advocate for abused and neglected children

The folks from UUCC and the greater community who turn out, month after month, to proclaim the truth that Black Lives Matter and we must do better.

“If I can ease one life the aching...”

High school students sang these words and high schoolers made up the orchestra that supported them. Music Coordinator Terry Eberhardt noted that we are in the business of making better people through music. Perhaps this is to placate career-minded parents who worry that the pursuit of music might derail their child’s focus from pre law or pre med.  Not everyone who pursues musical experiences will become a professional musician. Most won’t. But every student who worked to fashion yesterday’s performance was changed by the experience and will carry it with them forever.

Today’s post is offered in thanks to all those who do the work of goodness or who offer our young people opportunities to live and think beyond themselves. And, to all of you who are pounding the pavement in support of candidates who believe that the care of others is every bit as important as our love of self: you are fighting the good fight.

If you have five minutes today, stop and listen. I can’t promise it will make you a better person. But it just might.

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