i am a little church

Little Country Church
Little Country Church (Photo credit: p medved)

i am a little church

i am a little church (no great cathedral)
far from the splendor and squalor of hurrying cities
– i do not worry if briefer days grow briefest,
i am not sorry when sun and rain make april

my life is the life of the reaper and the sower;
my prayers are the prayers of earth’s own clumsily striving
(finding and losing and laughing and crying) children
whose any sadness or joy is my grief or my gladness

around me surges a miracle of unceasing
birth and glory and death and resurrection:
over my sleeping self float flaming symbols
of hope, and i wake to a perfect patience of mountains

I am a little church (far from the frantic world
with its rapture and anguish) at peace with nature
– i do not worry if longer nights grow longest;
i am not sorry when silence becomes singing

winter by spring, I lift my diminutive spire to
merciful Him Whose only now is forever:
standing erect in the deathless truth of His presence
(welcoming humbly His light and proudly His darkness)

— e. e. cummings
from 95 poems


i am a little church
sung by Texas Tech Women’s Chorale
(This is not my choir! I think we sing it better than they do…)
Choir directed by Dr. Carolyn Cruse
Music composed by Daniel Brewbaker
Based on poetry by e.e. cummings, this setting is dedicated to the composer’s mother on the occasion of her 87th birthday.

i am a little church (no great cathedral)
far from the splendor and squalor of hurrying cities
I played this lovely song in a small country church this morning for the wonderful women’s choir I accompany.

Red-Winged Blackbird (Male), Colony Farm Regio...

The windows were open and a warm breeze was blowing. Today was one of the very first truly nice spring days we have had this year. The grass is getting quite green. The birds were chirping in nearby trees, bushes and in the nearby fields.

The church was full.
Full of singers.
Full of congregation members.
Full of music.
Full of friends.
Full of love.

My eyes were soon full of tears as our director, my friend and respected colleague of many years, read the poem out loud with great care and expression to the congregation before the women began to sing it.

The words were so beautiful.

The song is beautiful and deeply moving.

Tears were streaming down my face for most of the song this morning: tears of sadness/joy/grief/gladness.
One of my dear friends said it this way: “You cry for beauty.”

I will try to share some of the thoughts that were flowing through my mind as we sang and I played this morning.

i am not sorry when sun and rain make april
I am most definitely not sad that sun and rain have finally made april — finally on april 28!

my life is the life of the reaper and the sower
My life (mother, teacher, musician) is very much that of a reaper and a sower. Yesterday afternoon I was recognized during my daughter’s final Children’s Choir concert for my seven years directing and teaching the youngest singers. All singers who had ever been in my choirs (current and past) were called onto the stage for a photo opportunity. I was astounded at the number of children! Teachers do not often get the chance to see several years of their students at the same place and time. I say this very humbly, but it is a great joy to hear from former students (and parents and grandparents) that they love to sing, love music, are still singing and that they love, remember and are thankful for me. Seeing their smiling faces and gathering the hugs they freely gave is a joy that will stay with me forever.

Motherhood is very much a long term investment. My babies are now teenagers. I often think to myself, “I gave up my career and 17 years of my life and this is what my child is saying/doing/being?” Though I am deeply proud of both of them, but at times they can be excessively exasperating. I hold onto the thought that I am sowing seeds, that I am training them up in the way they should go, that I am giving them roots and wings.

(finding and losing and laughing and crying) children
whose any sadness or joy is my grief or my gladness
My recent weeks have been filled with finding and losing and laughing and crying and with sadness, joy, grief and gladness as well. My family is on the verge of finding a “new” normal and of losing our “old” way of life (huge impending move and career change — see older blog posts). I have laughed through tears, and felt joy mixed with sadness so often that it has nearly become my new default emotion.

around me surges a miracle of unceasing
birth and glory and death and resurrection:

photo by Chris Palmer, via Flickr CC; Spring Grove Cemetery
photo by Chris Palmer, via Flickr CC; Spring Grove Cemetery

I felt this very keenly in this lovely little church surrounded by greening growing fields, chirping singing birds and not far away, a small silent rural cemetery. (Another of the choir songs this morning was “May the Circle Be Unbroken” — birth, life, death, resurrection — the great unbroken circle.) Sometimes the eternal can feel very much present and immediate. I felt that.

i am a little church at peace with nature
I realized this morning again what a precious gift this life is. Faith, hope and love abide: these three.
But the greatest of these is LOVE.
I will treasure the great gift of this morning:
having a “moment” that stands still in time and memory in that beautiful little country church with wide open windows filled with bird songs, music, friends and love.
winter by spring, I lift my diminutive spire to
merciful Him Whose only now is forever:
standing erect in the deathless truth of His presence
(welcoming humbly His light and proudly His darkness)

Amen.

The Blackbird.
The Blackbird. (Photo credit: Pat Dalton…)

Click here to read another blog post about this morning, written by one of the choir members.

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Published by

quirkyjazz

I am a pianist, musician, music teacher, choir director, mother, wife, daughter, sister, cousin, sister-in-law, friend, neighbor. I enjoy music (of course!), quilting, sewing, beading, traveling, kayaking, camping, biking, hiking, gardening, knitting, scrapbooking, cooking, reading, poetry, drinking good coffee, and having fun with family and friends. NOTE -- Creative Commons License: All work of The Tromp Queen (quirkyjazz, aka Jill) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 4.0 Unported License.

4 thoughts on “i am a little church”

  1. Thank you for stopping by my blog. I read this post of yours first thing in the morning, and you cannot believe how much I need to know and assure myself of everything you express here so gently, so simply, to the accompaniment of lovely music, pictures and mood.
    Thank you for this… little churches we all are, as mothers of teenagers ready to fly. Have a good week!

    1. I’m so glad my words touched you. I have a two teens ready to fly — one will be nearly three hours away and my other (younger) will be flying on her own in a brand new high school. Thank you for commenting! I hope you keep reading.

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