One thing I love about this time of year is that some trees are already beginning to bud. Today, I saw purple crocuses in full bloom in my front yard, and my winter daphne has bloomed, filling the air with an intoxicatingly sweet perfume. The plants and the earth know new life is coming, even if some of us are still stuck in what seems like an eternal gray haze.
As this wave of the omicron variant starts to recede, I am daring once again to hope it may be possible for us to gather together in person before too long.
Tonight, the ESUC Mighty Choir held a masked-and-distanced in-person rehearsal for the first time since before Christmas. There is nothing I know that can match the soul-satisfying joy of singing together in a group, especially if one has been deprived of this for any length of time. While I am grateful that Zoom has allowed us to connect in important and life-affirming ways, it is an unsatisfying medium through which to share music. I left the rehearsal feeling a deep sense of connection I know now I need on a regular basis. I am (yet again) eagerly anticipating the time when we can raise our voices together as a congregation in our beautiful sanctuary. What a joyful noise indeed that will be.
In the summer of 2018, I went to Portland to attend a five-day conference of UU Directors of Music. It was an exceedingly rich time, full of singing, talking, listening, learning, planning, playing, and singing – always singing. This is where I met the wonderful Melanie DeMore – she led an afternoon workshop with all the gathered music directors and transformed us into a singing, dancing, feeling, laughing, living, breathing being. In 2020 and 2021 the conference was not able to be held due to COVID. This July, however, the conference is being planned for five days in Ann Arbor, Michigan. I am *so* signed up for this. I look forward to hearing how my fellow UU musicians have fared over these past two challenging years, and what opportunities, griefs and insights have come forth. I look forward to bringing what I learn and experience back to ESUC. (I also look forward to having numerous lunches at Zingerman’s delicatessen in Ann Arbor. This was the go-to place to enjoy delectable comestibles while I was at school at the University of Michigan.)
Many of us who attended General Assembly in Spokane in 2019 were struck by the song ‘We Shall Be Known’ by the duo MaMuse. This song has sustained me during several dark periods over this last year. There is something both joyful and solemn about the song, and seems to call upon a strength that is greater than any one of us alone. Here are the words to ‘We Shall Be Known,’ by Karisha Longaker of MaMuse:
We shall be known by the company we keep
By the ones who circle round to tend these fires
We shall be known by the ones who sow and reap
The seeds of change, alive from deep within the earth
It is time now, it is time now that we thrive
It is time we lead ourselves into the well
It is time now, and what a time to be alive
In this Great Turning we shall learn to lead in love
Here is a YouTube video of the duo singing the song
Thank you all for being part of such a wonderful collection of human beings. I embrace you all with love, and with music.
by Eric Lane Barnes, Director of Music