Preludes and Dreams, Lera Auerbach, piano. Lera Auerbach, a Russian Jew who has lived in the United States for over 20 years, is not only a pianist but a visual artist and award-winning poet. She is the creator of an impressive number of large-scale works such as the ballet The Little Mermaid and the recent Ode to Peace.
I entered parish ministry with a fair amount of idealism, particularly liturgical idealism. Inconveniently, the liturgical proclivities I picked up in seminary were not especially popular with my first congregation.
This became clear as a sleigh bell during our first Advent season together.
While my life and mind have been shaped by both American evangelicalism and political liberalism, I feel little personal connection to either C. S. Lewis or John F. Kennedy. Like a lot of people, I have mixed feelings about both men; perhaps more importantly, I wasn't around yet when they died. In any case, neither anniversary made me catch my breath this week.
Here's what did: Benjamin Britten's 100th birthday.
Now in his seventies, Aaron Neville can still locate the incredibly sweet spot between full voice and falsetto. The R&B legend’s singing remains mellow but quietly forceful—as if he could let loose at any moment but chooses not to.
Men and women in black, a few at first and then more, move quickly and silently across the parking lot, like a slow rain beginning to fall into the dark mouth of the sanctuary. A blue jay screams curses from the skirts of a pecan tree.
Then comes the small girl the neighbors call “the urchin,” who spends each day alone flitting around the neighborhood like a trapped moth. She is surrounded by three patchy dogs.
She marches barefoot and chants a little song about the summer morning, three stray dogs, and her very own self. She passes between the mourners, a blade of blue sky cutting through storm cloud.
When she gets home, her mother will still sit like a sea wall in front of the Trinity Broadcasting Network with a can of beer. The urchin will go into the kitchen for a glass of warm tap water. The man in the coffin will still be dead. The mourners
will still gather and be sad. Nothing will be any better. The jay will keep screaming its malediction on the deep down meanness of the world. But, look now, for a moment: the song, the girl, and three loping dogs.