Skip to main content

Good Friday Words


I have just returned from a performance of Brahms' Requiem. It is not the first time I have heard this masterwork--but it is the best time. The choir of a local Presbyterian church brought this piece to life with precision and spirit. They not only sang the music, they also sang the words, their meanings vibrated through the quiet sanctuary.

I arrived at the service early. I thought I might have trouble finding a seat, knowing that this was Good Friday, knowing what a rare blessing it is to hear this Requiem sung beautifully and reverently. The congregation was easily countable. Maybe, maybe, we numbered 40 people in a church that seats hundreds comfortably.

And so, I felt almost as if the scriptural words were being sung directly to me. It is easy to have this feeling in a small audience. To me, they sang:

For mortal flesh is as the grass, and all the comeliness of man is as the grasses' flowers. The grass hath withered, and the flower thereof hath fallen.

You now are sorrowful; grieve not: I will again behold you, and then your heart shall be joyful, and your joy shall no one take from you. I will again behold you.

Lo, I unfold unto you a mystery . . . .

***

Good words for Good Friday.



Image by Ysabel de la Rosa, copyright 2010, all rights reserved.


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Life without Television, Part 2

I began life without television with relief, which was consistent Monday through Friday. The first few weekends, though, felt awkward, anxious, lonely. When PBS has good programming on Saturday nights, it is extraordinarily good. Father Brown, Phryne Fisher, New Tricks... Extraordinary acting, high production values, and I fantasize about the pudgy, brilliant priest just perhaps having an innocent crush on one of his special parishioners, which would be moi. 

I called a friend one Sunday. "Maybe television helped with my anxiety more than I realized," I said. She told me about her aunt who, after her husband's death, kept the television on in his "man cave" 24/7. He has been gone years now. The television goes on, everlasting, in his absence. I don't blame her. Much of my frequent and prolonged television viewing began with grief.

After my sister died, I would watch almost anything, especially late at night when sleep eluded me. I even watched Convoy with …

Our Texas, My Texas: "Memories we carry like scars and diamonds"

This post title includes a quote from Hermine Pinson's poem, "Four Sisters and the Dance." As you read, it will become clear why.

I was 7 when my father earned his Ph.D. from Duke. He then accepted a teaching position at a small private college in a rural Texas town in the 1960s. Population was 5,000, give or take a few. Our Texas roots ran deep, and we saw this return to the Lone Star State as a homecoming. So, I left the lyrical landscape of the Carolinas and the small private school where I had become nearly fluent in French. Then, I entered the hot, dry world of that small town. 

We did not yet have a place to live. Our family of five, including our infant brother, camped out in the girls' dorm for several weeks. Our furniture was stored on the university theater stage while my parents searched for a home. I was riding in the car with my dad and a member of the university administration and overheard their conversation. My father wondered where he could find help …

Whose day?

Years ago, I made some collages using pages from a desk calendar from the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The image that leads this post is one. Inside the hearts and flowers is a picture from the MMA collection of  a Japanese screen made in the 16th century. It is titled Tagasode, which means Whose sleeves?  The title comes from a 10th-century poem:


The fragrance seems even more alluring than the hue, Whose sleeves have brushed past? Or would it be this plum tree blossoming here at home?
Iro yori mo ka koso awaredo omohoyure tagasode fureshi ado no ume zo mo
The word haunts: tagasode. Whose sleeves? The question floats in my mind like a cloud on a still day. The sleeves materialize in my mind's eye. I hear them move through hushed air. I can imagine, though not name, the scent of the person to whom those sleeves belong. It's not unlike smelling the scent of your infant's clothes, or holding the perfume bottle that belonged to your mother...you don't need to open it... you know tha…