Sunday, May 28, 2017

I Shall Keep Singing (Credit: Emily Dickinson)

I shall keep singing. For a while, I thought I wouldn't. I thought my time was up, the glory was over, and the time had come to hang up my choir outfit and turn in the music. 
This is exactly how I felt at the end of the chorus season. I was burned out, bummed out, and just ready to call it a 20 year ride. But suddenly, as I was standing on stage with my fellow singers, looking out into the larger than usual audience, I remembered why I do this. There is nothing in the world so satisfying and emotionally wonderful as singing in a choir. The music we make is not possible to make on my own. Also, I realized in that moment (yes, as I was singing) that it's more than the music. It's the people who create it with me. It was at that moment, I realized, that while I may need the summer to recharge my batteries, the thought of leaving all of this behind caused tears to well up in my eyes. I'm looking forward to singing in the Fall with my beloved chorus. Sometimes we all need moments like that.

I shall keep singing!
Birds will pass me
On their way to Yellower Climes—
Each—with a Robin's expectation—
I—with my Redbreast—
And my Rhymes—

Late—when I take my place in summer—
But—I shall bring a fuller tune—
Vespers—are sweeter than Matins—Signor—
Morning—only the seed of Noon—

             -Emily Dickinson

I've always loved this poem for many reasons. I discovered it first when a composer set it to music as a tribute to our late artistic director who lost her battle with breast cancer. She never wanted us to stop singing--not even when she could no longer conduct. She believed in the hope of morning and she loved yellow. Even though the taste of evening better suited me, she taught me to love and hope even in the early morning hours.

Years later, after a rough time, this poem means something more. I stand a little taller, stronger, and more confident that, yes, I SHALL KEEP SINGING. It's a beautiful thing and it fills me with joy I can't find anywhere else. I've cried tears of despair but now I cry tears of joy. Tears that let me know singing is vital to my very existence. And not just singing--but singing in a choir. 

And that is why I continue this journey of song with 49 or so of my friends walking with me and hoping with me for a better world--at least in our corner.

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