#BlogElul – Hope
I felt like writing about singing today. I love singing. I’m not a very good singer, but there’s something about the cadence and rhythm of a good song that just feels right to me. To me, singing is a way to connect to God, and to other people, to myself and to the world around me. I sing to best express a feeling, to find comfort in saying clearly what something is like for me. I don’t sing creatively – people who write music, you have no idea how lucky you are! But I do like to experience a song in depth, to really understand who I am through music. I like songs that are not too fast, with lyrics, so that I can sing along to them. I know there are other purposes to music, but it is the flow and bounce of words that attracts me, the many ways simple patterns can be put together to create beauty.
When my family feels together, I feel all is right in the world. Resentments begin to thaw, and fights melt away and I remember what it is I like about the people I’m with. As they sing, their energy emerges and it’s beautiful to see who they are and to see the divine within them. It’s almost like singing makes us angels for just that one tiny moment. Sometimes, we’re irreverent, funny angels, as some of the songs we sing are ridiculous, but even then, sometime it just clicks.
My favourite movies, are, of course, musicals. To me, musicals are *more* real than other movies. I know no one ever drops everything and starts madly dancing in circles. But it’s a clear, visible way to express feeling and engender it. So, I can feel what the characters are feeling, practicing that emotion in a safe way.
This is why for years, our slihot service has been a sing-along. If one’s apology is going to be generic and not specific to a situation, if one is going to apologize for general badness rather than lack of connection then really, that apology is different. That’s not a ‘sorry, I hurt you by doing such and such and I am working on changing who I am so I don’t behave that way any more’ apology. It’s more of an apology along the lines of ‘sorry, there is badness between us, and I’m sure a big part of it is my fault, but I don’t even know all that’s involved and I certainly can’t fix it all. So, I’m asking you to let go of all that so we can still be friends’. That kind of apology, inherent in the word ‘slihot’, which is both apologies and forgiveness, that king of apology is more of a connection. We try to reconnect, going around the broken bits, knowing that the work of cleaning them up and repairing them may still be there, but it can at least stop holding us back.
That’s something I can accomplish through song, much better than through mere words. By sharing those difficult, sad, happy, beautiful, silly, sweet and holy feelings, I do reconnect. I acknowledge that my fellow singers are just as bad at this ‘living a proper life’ thing as I am, and I keep from letting that hold me back. Through songs, I rebuild the bridges I need to manage next year, both with other people and with God.
Now, today’s word is ‘hope’. How am I going to tie that in? I guess I will express hope that I sing often. To me songs are full of hope, of love and connections, even the sad, despairing ones. I sing because I hope, and singing inspires me to hope more.