By: Dennis Bates
Sometimes the moments of deepest personal inspiration come from meditating on the spirit filled breaths of others and letting them blow across your soul. That inspiration can come from words, music or deeds that massage your heart and connect you and those that join in prayerful awareness. You willingly surrender self and individual understandings to a greater understand and higher power.
Those are the moments to cherish; those are the wisps of wonder to live for. If you experience even one of those moments you are fortunate; if you have more, you are truly blessed.
It’s been 44 years since our high school choir performed the St Olaf Choir signature piece “Beautiful Savior.” A very soft, hummed section in the middle is carried by the baritones while a single soprano voice sings the haunting melody over top. The baritone section is high, technically difficult and made even more challenging because everyone but the soprano sings their part using only an ooh.
During rehearsals we never could get it right. The night of the performance three of us, two of us letter winning athletes, decided we would join hands when we came to that part and concentrate on making our voices one as we let the soprano’s solo voice float over us. We agreed we would forget about our single voices and focus on the pressure of our joined hands.
When we got to the soprano solo and the teenage woman in front of us sang “Fair are the meadows, fairer still the woodlands,” we pressed each others’ hands and listened for the soloist, focusing our eyes on the conductor. When the diminutive soprano powered into the final two lines “Jesus is fairer, Jesus is purer, He makes our sorrowing spirit sing,” all I saw was a tunnel between the three of us and the conductor, and all I heard was the most incredible solo I have ever heard to this day, Metropolitan Opera included. Nothing else existed but the music.
When we finished, the conductor nodded to the soloist, who was brilliant, and then he looked at the three of us in the baritone section and wiped an honest tear from his eye as he mouthed the single word, “Bravo” to us. We squeezed our hands together one last time knowing that the three of us had just been part of something truly special. It was one of those moments that becomes part of you forever.
I have no idea where either of those two fellow baritones are today, and without looking them up in an old high school yearbook, I couldn’t even tell you their names. But I can remember the feeling we had, the soprano’s solo and the conductor’s face as he said “Bravo,” and I look forward to the day that the three of us can join hands together again and sing that song to the Inspiration that blew His spirit across our collective soul that night so we could feel Him. And I wait eagerly to look up at the end of the song to see His Father, My Father…Our Father say “Bravo” out loud.
That’s what forever is.
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