He had a wand. A singing wand that could see through skin. He touched the skin and frowned: a black spot upon the grey, fuzzy picture of health. A hard image, round and empty. Suspicious. The wizard drew his lines (X marks the spot) and said, “Come again next week. There is another wizard needed here.” So I left and I waited and came again then. This time there were two. The one with the wand welcomed the one with the bag of potions and vials. Then, raising his song, he gazed again at the spot and twice thrust a small spear into the dark to draw a piece from its heart. Passing each spear to the wizard of elixirs, he smiled and said, “That is all that we need! You can go.”
“But …” I hesitated. “What of the spot?”
“He needs time to work his magic. When he is through, he will tell the blade master what he has seen. The blade master himself will summon you.”
And so I left the radiologist and the pathologist to wait for a call from my surgeon. I had hoped it would come before the weekend, but it didn’t. Monday, most likely. In the meantime, I am left to meditate on the magic of sound.
I find it amazing that sound can be a kind of sight. This is literally true in the form of an ultrasound. The echo pattern of high-frequency sound waves is translated into a visual image. Using what we cannot hear, we see what we cannot touch. This is a modern wonder.
A second wonder we take for granted because it is familiar: hearing. Though our eyes may be closed, with our ears we can map our immediate world. Right now I know, without looking up from the comfort of my couch, that it has just stopped drizzling – the sharp ting of water falling on the pipe by my front door has almost stopped, and the birds are singing again. This is an ancient wonder.
There is, however, a third wonder: that which we hear with our ears, but understand with our hearts; that which pours out of our bodies and into our souls – music. Through music, we perceive a world of spirit and thought, meaning and mystery. This is a divine wonder.
One of the school events I have been preparing for in the last three+ months is the AMIS Middle School Honor Choir Festival. On Tuesday, I will fly to Chennai, India with a group of my advanced middle school singers. They will spend several days working under a guest conductor with about eighty other students from twelve international schools. We have spent every Monday afternoon since October working on the music – ten songs in three part harmony, with text in English, Sanskrit, Swahili, Latin, and Polish. One of these songs has been particularly stuck in my head the last two weeks. It is a choral setting of the poem “Sing to Me” by Ella Wheeler Wilcox. Here is a link to the song itself. Below is an excerpt from the poem.
Sing to me! Something of sunlight and bloom,
I am so compassed with sorrow and gloom,
I am so sick with the world’s noise and strife,
Sing of the beauty and brightness of life—
Sing to me, sing to me!
Sing of the blossoms that open in spring,
How the sweet flowers blow, and the long lichens cling,
Say, though the winter is round about me,
There are bright summers and springs yet to be.
Sing to me, sing to me!
Sing me a song full of hope and of truth,
Brimming with all the sweet fancies of youth!
Say, though my sorrow I may not forget,
I have not quite done with happiness yet.
Sing to me, sing to me!
I am so thankful for all the people who have literally or metaphorically “sung” to me in the last week. Thank you to all who have sent me notes, or comments, or emails with songs and words of truth. Thank you to all who have prayed and continue to pray. My heart is encouraged today. A few have asked if this isn’t terrible way to spend a weekend … waiting for test results … not knowing … fearing the worst. Am I not anxious? Not today. “Knowing” would not have changed any external aspect of my weekend anyway. Even if it is bad news of some kind, (and I’m assuming it is) I can’t do anything about it beyond good food, water, and sleep. I still have to wait for the doctors to make a plan. I could spend my weekend grieving the bad news I know, or being anxious about the potential bad news I don’t know … OR I could “say, though the winter is round about me, there are bright summers and springs yet to be.”
So I will sing. I will sing of hope and truth, for I am not quite done with happiness yet.
“Instead, be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
[Note about the header picture: since arriving in South Africa, I have always lived in Borgo de Felice (aka: Happy Town). However, the management of my apartment complex recently changed the logo to have a distinctly musical theme. Notice the harp, the flat sign for the B, the modified bass clef for the D, the forte sign for the F. Also, the lines simultaneously combine elements of both the staff and a sound wave. It is a delightful reminder that I am hemmed in by music.]