03/02/04: blessed are those...

I can't understand why in western society mourning is frowned upon. A loved one dies, we're told to be strong and seek closure. You get dumped like a hot bowl of borscht and you're told to get over it. Dammit, I'm tired of being rushed through natural healing processes. Humans don't like saying goodbye, it's that simple. So when it comes time to do that, why are we perceived as weak and wussy if we feel the ache for longer than what is convenient for others?

I gotta say, I think when it comes to mourning that the Jews have the right idea with the whole Shivah concept. Someone dies and you stay home for 7 days while loved ones bring you food and comfort. You are immersed in the memory and loss of this person for seven days straight, you don't try to "suck it up" or "get over it" or repress your sadness... you're a big boogery mess, so much so that they even recommend you cover your mirrors with fabric so you can just be gross and not worry about how red and swollen your eyes are. And guess what! After 7 days of all that, you're kinda feeling better about everything. I think it's the suppression of tears that makes this crap last eternally. Let it out, and it'll pass a little easier.

What brings this on, you might ask? Last night I had my first class on the Brahms Requiem. Each week we're studying a different movement, analyzing the history of the piece, when each movement was written (they weren't written consecutively; I just learned that the 5th movement (out of 7) was added last), religious and political implications and reflections of the text, harmonic structure, and melodic themes. I'm really excited about it.

I was talking to Mark about the class last night and he asked me if I worried that studying the piece so intensively would make me hate it; something I hadn't really considered. Since the class is only 5 weeks long, I didn't think it would. Let's hope not.

I also realized that I had never performed the piece. For some reason I always thought I had the Brahms Requiem on my vocal/choral performance résumé, but looking at it I realized I've only sung certain movements from it, but never the whole schmegege.

Anyway, we were studying the text of the first movement last night which goes like this:

Blessed are they that mourn:
for they shall be comforted.
(Matthew 5:4)
They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.
Who goeth forth and weepeth,
and beareth precious seed,
shall doubtless return with rejoicing,
and bring his sheaves with him.
(Psalms 126:5-6)

I really like the metaphor in the text above that says tears are like seeds, and when they hit the ground good things will grow. That's comforting, and I tend to believe it.

My friend Tom died in 1987, and I'll tell you, I still feel that loss. Naturally the wound is not as fresh as it was 17 years ago, but I think about him often and I wish he was around still. I think about the potential he had, and I think about the potential our friendship had. When I go visit my folks in Jersey, I will sometimes stop by his grave and hang for a few minutes. it's funny; I won't go visit the graves of my grandparents or other relatives, but I do go to Tom's. Maybe it's because my ancient relatives were expected to die eventually, so their passing, while painful, wasn't a shock. But Tom, an 18-year old choir geek, has no good reason not to be around.

In other news completely, Christurner just told me that the Knappuccino's / Cappella Sonora article just came out in the Brandywine Community News. I checked their website tonight and didn't see it, but christurner is scanning it for me, so eventually I'll put it online.

I'll leave you with this pearl of wisdom, imparted to me by Jim Shephard: "Things approached head on are never ever as bad as the trouble you go through trying to figure out how you're gonna react to a certain scenario. Stop spending so much time planning your reactions, and just be."