It’s wonderful to be back in the fold, never having left in spirit, and time creating a fortuitous connection with Stephanie during which the idea of an eastside branch of the choir was planted, germinated and bore fruit on April 10th. Erin and Stephanie joined my good friend and Threshold aspirant, Marci Fredericks at our home where Marci jumped in to song and harmony without hesitation and we sailed through an hour and a half of mostly our old favorites, invoking that familiar feeling of something greater than the sum of the parts.
Stephanie kindly hosted the second rehearsal as I was out of town and we just had our third gathering last Tuesday back here where Erin introduced two songs new to me, Calling all Angels and Kinder, which we sang together several times to get the feel for the rhythm, sound and sense of form and content. Marci was familiar with a slightly different version of Calling All Angels and the additional verses which she will bring to our next gathering. As well she offered to bring the version she knows of the Chant to Tara.
Stephanie sang one of the Threshold songs (about walking in Sunshine – I don’t have the title right now and she is off on a mountain birding trek) )at a recent ceremony where she sponataneously translated it into Spanish, and has offered to write up the translation for us.
We meet on second and fourth Tuesdays each month, at 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 (near Broadway and Camino Seco) and will love to see any of you whon live close and/or want some extra song time. Please contact us for the address.
Three of us had the privilege of attending the recent Southwest Threshold Choir Gathering in New Mexico. Imagine being in a song circle, surrounded by support, lifted by life-affirming music for two full days. It was a chance to reconnect with members of other choirs in the region whom we had met before, as well as meet new friends. Amidst our busy lives, it’s easy to become disconnected, from others, from ourselves.
“For it is not merely the trivial which clutters our lives but the important as well. We can have a surfeit of treasures. . .here. . .I have had space. . . . Here there is time; time to be quiet; time to work without pressure; time to think. . . . Then communication becomes communion and one is nourished as one never is by words.” (Anne Morrow Lindbergh)
Sometimes we need a retreat, to remember and to renew that reservoir, so we can return and continue to give and receive with a full heart.
My grateful heart, so filled with years of living. Memories flow by me like petals on a stream. My grateful heart forgives so many sorrows, Brings peace that lasts forever, Illuminates the dream.
Mi corazón tan lleno de recuerdos.
Si deslizan suaves, pétalos en el mar.
Mi corazón perdona los dolores,
Ofrece paz eterna,
You can find this song along with many others we sing, on the Threshold Choir CD ‘Tenderly Rain’ available here.
“I am learning from this experience. So it’s not depressing.” These were the sentiments expressed by a woman we visited who had taken a bad fall in her home. As she put it, “Last week I was dying, this week, living.” Although she had hearing difficulties, she was eager to engage in conversation and shared with us some precious wisdom about what she was going through and about her family life and history. When she couldn’t hear us talk, she encouraged us to write her notes. While she told us she wouldn’t be able to receive our singing, but was an avid reader, we handed her the lyrics to “Shine” by Joan Chu from the Aromas, CA choir so she could read them. This seemed to epitomize her positive attitude and how she has lived her life, and she remarked that she approved of the message of the song. As we left, she encouraged us not to give up, sharing more words of wisdom. Driving home, the full setting sun broke free of the clouds, lit resplendently in hot pink and orange, shining with a most vibrant and joyous light.
Last night at rehearsal we shared an enlightening experience. We usually sing at the Little Chapel of All Nations on the U of A campus. We sing inside the sweetly intimate and quiet space – when we have a key. We quickly learned the universe had other plans for us, being that we arrived sans key.
So, we improvised. First we sat in a nearby courtyard. With temps still hovering near 100 degrees it was warm, yet the cool night sky helped us be outside with ease. Okay, we thought, this is nice. But then the thumping bass lines and party soundtracks from nearby sorority or fraternity parties made themselves known. (School just resumed = HIGH energy hum!) It was a little tough to concentrate. With her trademark patience and intuition, Erin suggested we move into another space, due to the ahem, ‘high ambient noise’ factor. (Love her so much.)
The four of us took two benches and moved ourselves with these into a dark, brick and relatively quiet passageway with a cool cross-breeze. Great acoustics to boot, we realized. We found another little world within a world! We sat back-to-back, sinking into our breath and our bones. We sang with delicious satisfaction.
As I reflect today, I am seeing the metaphors. I see how we were quietly guided by intuition and listened to it. We didn’t let the noise and commotion annoy or disrupt us. We found the quiet space. We claimed it. And the joy of singing together unfolded for us, externally and internally, all at once.
The staff at this inpatient hospice facility in Tucson welcome us twice a month, as we come with songs into the hallways and rooms. We sing to patients and their families. When staff say, “sure, we’d like a song or two” we sing to them, too!
The first time we visited, we offered songs with five voices. We sang to a small number of patients whose ages spanned from pre-teen to elders. Sometimes, like tonight, only two of us may make it to sing. It may be the perfect amount unbeknownst to any of us — only two voices. We were called to sing softly for one woman. The songs were “So Many Angels” and “You are Loved”. Her labored breathing appeared to soften as we tapered our sound into hums.
For anyone who faces loss right now, I feel moved to post this video of Threshold Sisters singing earlier this year at a National Gathering. The uplifting power of our songs need not only occur in the hallways at hospice. Hopefully this song reaches many hearts:
From March 2nd-4th, 40+ women of varying ages and life experiences gathered to sing in Taos, New Mexico with our National Director, Kate Munger. Three of us from the Tucson Choir were enormously blessed to join this wise circle.
YES. We gathered with a singular focus: to sing! And to heal. And laugh together. Shed tears together. Walk a labyrinth on crunchy snow together. Mostly, to sense our voices lifted up in song as one glorious vibration.
We learned new songs like: “I will be your standing stone / I will stand by you.” And “Freedom on the Inside“. Oh – and “Make me a Polished Stone” — all written by our Song Grandmother, Kate. ‘Polished Stone‘ in fact, was written the day before we gathered; while she was at a local hot springs!
Words fail me when trying to describe this experience. I’m hoping my sisters who also attended will chime in with their thoughts. We will attempt to upload some sound files, so you can listen to some of the songs we rehearsed together.
What I can say shines amongst my most memorable experiences is this: the vision and sound of Kate Munger singing a solo lullaby. She explained how our sound while singing bedside ought to be no more than a mother singing softly into her baby’s ear, while held against her breast. This tenderness is incredibly soft. So delicately loving! And when a group of women sing this way, the power of it brings pure healing love.
Some women came with heavy hearts, as they were experiencing their own grieving. Some of us came with a need for renewal found in the songs we sing. Many of us were surprised by everything we experienced beyond what we came for.
Thank you, Kate. And thank you, Threshold sisters. My life is so incredibly expanded by your presence. And when I reflect upon the circles of people we touch while we go out into this world singing our songs, I’m awash in the same kind of spirit-filled goosebumps I feel when we close a song cycle.