This is so exciting: you can listen to our founder, Kate Munger, being interviewed on an “All Things Considered” segment here. As I listened to the radio this afternoon in my kitchen, I felt my heart race when I heard Kate’s voice and happily began singing along with Threshold Choir sisters as the piece aired.
During this season of gratitude, a path in my life for which I am most grateful to walk is being a part of the Tucson Threshold Choir. (Based on recent emails to each other over the holiday, I think many in our choir would agree!) When Kate mentions in the story how singing bedside is more of a form of prayer than ‘performance’, in response to Arun’s question about it being kind of stressful, I felt tears well up in my being.
“Yes. Thank you, Kate!” I said aloud. And felt a huge swell of gratefulness to her: thank you for bringing the possibility of your songs to so many of us across this country.
Whether our choir rehearses together in the Little Chapel of All Nations or sings in an ICU hospital room, care facility dining room, inpatient hospice hallway or silent bedroom of a home . . . singing for the dying and their caregivers – or even sometimes for ourselves – is a tender experience. A delicate and sacred unspoken kind of prayer is woven throughout our songs.
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.