Friday, September 11, 2009

Where were you

Where were you. . . .
…on 9/11? Well, we were all somewhere, weren’t we? I happened to be home with my husband. He was watching tv; I was messing around somewhere in the house when he called, “An airplane hit the World Trade Center.” My mind immediately pictured some little private plane, off course, pilot drunk or something. “Really? Huh.” A few minutes later, “Another plane hit the other one!” “What!?!” We all know what happened after that. We all dealt with it individually and collectively. I didn’t know anyone in the towers, on the planes, in the Pentagon, but I have this blessing/curse of enormous empathy. Emotionally, I was the wife or mother receiving or making the last phone call. I was the terrified person wondering which way to turn and unable to see. I was sitting, terrified, on that plane. I was numb. While others called family and friends to talk, I couldn’t speak. I sat on that couch watching the horror over and over: feeling the heat, choking on the smoke, paralyzed by the terror. I stood on the steps of Congress singing “God Bless America.” At some point, I hung our flag outside. I was the first on the block. I was glad that George Bush was the President because he said the right things at the time. He really did. Because as the numbness passed, it was replaced by anger. I wanted to kill someone; I wanted them to “bring it on”.
This is not the place to dwell on the wrong roads taken from the righteous anger we felt. But if we could all back up, rewind, recapture the feeling of unity and shared purpose maybe we could find a scrap of ideological common ground somewhere in this vast country that we all profess to love.
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Friday, September 4, 2009

Hymnals: A Comparison

I spent the afternoon with my Mom at the nursing home yesterday. There were a lot of fun activities, but my pick for Activity of the Day was the 2:00 p.m. Sing Along. Many of the residents had their wheelchairs parked around the wall by 1:00 so as to have the best seats. Mom and I arrived a few minutes after 2, but we were still able to get well-positioned before she joined about half the other participants in falling asleep.
Without fanfare (or introduction), singing guy and his piano playing wife launched right into "What a Friend We have in Jesus" segueing into "Amazing Grace" and "Rock of Ages". Then things got tricky. He started asking residents if they could identify the songs. They could, and sang them by heart. Wait a minute....I don't know any of these songs! I used to sing in the choir....I should know SOME of these.
Feeling, hymnally illiterate, I started flipping through the pages. Then I noticed them: The Notes. I remembered the voice of my music appreciation professor in college: "Baptist hymns have eighth notes and quarter notes. Episcopal hymns have half notes and full notes." There were all those perky little black eighth notes and quarter notes skipping and tripping all over the pages. No fat, full circles embracing entire measures to indicate their decorum and civility. Nothing to indicate any relationship to the Bachian hymns of my short-lived stint as a member of the choir. And one more reminder of my half-baked Liberal, Southern status as little old ladies who could not remember where they were from minute to minute sang all the words, joyfully, to songs I had never heard.