Sunday, April 13, 2014
Palm Sunday Serendipity
I was awakened (repeatedly) this morning to be told that our return flight to Houston was at first delayed, then cancelled. Divine providence!
As I write (on my iPhone), I'm sitting in a pew at St. Mary Abbots Church, just off of the Kensington High Street on a glorious spring morning in anticipation of BACH: St John Passion (The Purcell Orchestra, St Mary Abbots Choir & Singers, Conductor Prof. Mark Uglow present an Easter performance by candlelight) at 6:30 tonight. Many of the musicians have arrived and are rehearsing on vintage wooden wind instruments, most if which I can't name but whose sounds are oddly, old-worldly familiar.
From the moment I stepped onto the grounds of this Church of England, I've been made to feel so welcomed. The lady from whom I purchased my ticket appeared only SLIGHTLY less ancient than the church. Despite my interrupting her lunch, she seemed so pleased to chat and brag about what is sure to be a memorable evening and performance.
Just now, I'm sitting dead-on in the middle of the choir. More musicians arrive and "tune". The great organ comes to life. My presence here is not even remarked upon. The Sun's rays are streaming through the celestory. Suddenly, all is silence.
The soul recognizes the comfort of its spiritual home in Earth.
A solo, tenor voice rises. It is that of the conductor.
Strings find their melody and harmony. The tenor voice is replaced by soprano as the conductor faces his charges and the Renaissance comes to life in the still air. A mournful cello underscores the lilting voice of an earthbound angel.
The tempo jumps to life. The remaining players take their parts. Ethereal, spiritual, heavenly...
At a break, I leave the sanctuary of the church and emerge into the rare but welcome brightness of mid-day London. My anticipation of the evening, itself a serendipitous gift from the Father, rises, then falls as I emerge from peace into chaos: Sunday afternoon in crowded, boisterous Kensington High Street.
The universality of the yin and yang, separated by a few steps and centuries-old stone walls.