Thursday, April 19, 2007

the unexpected gospel

A group of homeless men and women, eight in all, have recently come together to form a choir. I'd heard about them via the agency grapevine but I'd never heard them sing. I mentioned to one of the staff that it would be terrific to hear them sing at our next employee meeting and referred him to the person in charge of setting it up, and then (to be completely honest) it sort of slipped my mind after that.

So yesterday was our meeting, and when I arrived at the shelter that staff person said they are all ready to go. And I thought shit, they are not on the agenda. I asked him if he had talked to so and so in charge of blah and blah, and the answer was no.

But here are these folks, all raring to go. I immediately knew we needed to make this happen. So I hurried to make some adjustments and then went to talk to the head of the choir. Since they all live there and it was rather early, they were still in their pajamas.

So I check with the head choir woman, who was rather resplendent in a tattered pink chenille robe and a cigarette in hand, and asked if they could go on a bit sooner than they were expecting and she told me in no uncertain terms that that was not possible, they still had to get ready, clothes needed to be pressed, a practice run to be had. Ok then. I'll move things around some more.

So we figured it out and at the appropriate time I went to find them. I walked into the room and they were gathered in a circle in prayer, arms around each other. I stopped and waited till they were done with their prayers of gratitude, faith, and hope.

I brought them into the meeting after being carefully schooled by the choir mistress about the number of songs on the schedule, the proper way to introduce them, and the musicians involved (two absolutely gorgeous older gentlemen dressed to the nines with guitars in hand). It was a motley sort of crew; young and old, wheelchairs, canes, and a equitable distribution of races and genders. They looked gorgeous; each of them had ironed their clothes, some had ties and hats, and the women with makeup and heels. Battered second hand formal wear that was absolutely stunning.

They sang four songs in all; two choir gospel pieces (Oh Happy Day was one) and two solos with a bit of jazz. After they were done they received not only thundering applause, but a lengthy standing ovation as well. I heard one of them whisper, they are all standing. they are standing for US. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't moved to tears. We all were.

Beauty is everywhere. In the middle of a homeless shelter eight people of all backgrounds and experiences found each other through the commonality of poverty and rocked the house. Their love and passion and generosity in the midst of a terrible time in their lives was at once humbling and inspiring. The pride in their music was beautiful. They are proud of who and where they are, and adamant in the message they want to share; one of hope, one of love, and one of faith. They have nothing, yet are willing to share so much.

We should all be so blessed.

43 comments:

Tabba said...

So true, Jen. The last line. All of it.
So, so true.
I am in awe.
And I have goosebumps.

KC said...

Oh Jen, this is simply beautiful. In the presence of angels you were. How deeply moving.

God's presence.

Pgoodness said...

Wonderful, especially in light of the horrible going on in the world. Moved to tears here, too.

crazymumma said...

That was f'in beautiful Jen. The imagery of the choir leader hauling on a smoke and pulling her crew together into the absolute dignity they did. You moved my artist soul Jen.

How honoured you must feel to have been a part of that audience.

Isn't it amazing when the universe bestows these gifts on us? Gifts that words hardly do justice (tho yours are pretty darn amazing), but what I mean is how in the moment it must have been.

Now, just sayin'....imagine. Imagine getting a recording and letting them hear themselves.

Imagine.

Mad Hatter said...

There is a reknowned (ok I've heard about them so they must be) homeless choir out of (I think) Montreal. They were featured on the National news a while back. I remember being blown out of the water by their talent.

NotSoSage said...

Amazing, what a thing of beauty and a thing to be oh so thankful for. Thank you for sharing it.

urban-urchin said...

Gorgeous. I am often amazed how little glimpses of what we were meant for, show up when we need them the most. Perhaps in your despair over Virginia, this was brought to you to show you there is good and beauty and dignity left in the world.

God's hand at work.

jen said...

i think you are all right. in fact, after i wrote this i thought: i get to see such amazing things at work sometimes. it's mindblowing. i am very lucky.

thailandchani said...
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slouching mom said...

this story moved me as much as the one about the older man you lived with for a time.

love these stories of yours.

flutter said...

What an unexpectedly gorgeous experience.

QT said...

What a cool story! I am so envious that you got to see them perform, yet happy you got a boost at work ~ we all need one of those.

Laurie said...

That is a beautiful post with a beautiful message.

thailandchani said...

The light in the darkness. That is what you are helping to create.

Don't forget that.. when you need to remember it most.


Peace,

~Chani

Joker The Lurcher said...

oh my. i remember the woman you wrote about who said she sang a bit - was she one of them?

Susanne said...

But having your music and dignity is having much. Not nothing.

Admirable.

kgirl said...

Thanks for the reminder.

kiki said...

there is so much goodness in this post, i'm teary just writing this. so beautiful girlfriend, how wonderful that you were present in all that glory.

Aliki2006 said...

Beautiful post and experience--I really needed it today.

Oh, The Joys said...

Wow. I wish I had been there. I could use a little of that this week and "Oh, Happy Day!!!!" - one of my favorites.

radical mama said...

That is so amazing Jen. Thanks for reminding me that beauty if everywhere. Sometimes I forget.

Gwen said...

You brought tears with that one.

This has to be one of the things that keeps you going, the small glimmers of hope, of human dignity, glinting among the detritus of all the ways we're screwing each other over.

Karen Forest said...

My legs have goosebumps......

It was a beautiful post!

wendy boucher said...

Goosebumps here too. That was an amazing story. I'm sooooo glad I dropped by for a visit today.

ECR said...

This reminds me that I can't carry a tune in a bucket. But I do love a good concert by a group of passionate people who can.

Julie Pippert said...

Wow.

Jocelyn said...

You have just cracked my heart in two, in the best possible way.

Any chance of ever putting up an audio file of them? I'd give them a standing ovation, right here in my office.

kaliroz said...

Lovely, simply lovely.

I'm linking you.

Penny. said...

Jen! I just put on my mascara!! Now, I have to go wipe it all off and start again. I should know better than to read you post-application.

...they are all standing. they are standing for US.

The surprise is heartbreaking. The inspiration is heartwarming. I wish we could all stand together.

nomotherearth said...

Beautiful. Just what I needed to hear today.

carrie said...

Wonderful. Good. Full of hope.

Carrie

Penny. said...

Jen. I am using your comment forum to say a personal goodbye from COAHTR. I want you to know that I think you are amazing. And, when I have the time, I will visit you, here. You are in my prayers. I love you. Keep up the good fight. Love to M and J as well!

Kyla said...

Amazing.

meno said...

*sniffle* I wish there was a video for us to watch. How amazing.

Marymurtz said...

Wonderful...wonderful, wonderful, wonderful.

theflyingmum said...

Oh, jen. I laughed when they were all in their pj's, and I cried when they got the standing ovation. Music is the language of the heart. That they are all coming together to communicate - wow. I so wish that I could hear them.

Deezee said...

As always, you highlight the most beautiful experiences, not just as an observer, but as a participant, a co-creator.

I thank you once again for sharing...

Desitin's Child said...

Hi Jen,
We've tagged you for a Thinking Blogger award. I know you've done this one before, so it's old hat and you can disregard. But we have to let you know, right?
Thanks for the thinking,
- L.

Desitin's Child said...
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Lillithmother said...

Jen, thank you thank you for sharing this...

I bet your soul needed their beauty after Monday...and I can't help but think that their Light helped lift your heart just a little bit?! It did mine...

Love,
Lil

K said...

Thanks, Jen for sharing the hope.

Ruth Dynamite said...

Jen, every one of your posts hammers home the truth about what it really means to be human.

I think that makes you super-human. You are in my book!

luckyzmom said...

Beautiful!