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Category: saints to ponder

why I believe in music, or “I Was Born For This” – Austin Wintory

joan-of-arc-on-corronation-of-charles-vii-in-the-cathedral-of-reims.jpg!Large

  “Joan of Arc upon Coronation of Charles VII in the Cathedral of Reims (1854) 

        Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres

                ____________________

many years ago, while I was volunteering 
at our hospital’s palliative care unit, nearby, 
recently installed as a response to, among 
other pressing preoccupations, but most 
urgently then, the AIDS crisis, I was asked 
to sit by a lady in profound distress, her 
family, Western Buddhists, would go to 
lunch while I would sit by her to comfort 
her as much as I could

she was dishevelled, of course, completely 
disconcerted, all ajitter, lost, and evidently
confused, in her profound isolation, not to 
mention in the crumpled state of her 
harried bedunable to communicate, or
reason

I found a chair, sat by her with earnest 
concentration, my partner had died 
there, only recently, on that very unit, 
and I was expressing, to all of those 
concerned in his unparalleled care, 
my unlimited appreciation

I lay a hand gently upon her arm, to let
her feel, at least, the safety that my 
touch could allow, to let it settle on 
her, however removed might be her 
remaining consciousness, began to 
sing quietly a chant I’d been intoning   
from a creed I’d turned to for comfort 
in my own personal anguish, at the 
loss of my own friend, a call, an 
invocation, the continuous iteration 
of a line that brought solace, Om Nama
Shivaya, I prayed, over and over again, 
with the greatest intention, whatever
that phrase might’ve, I’ve forgotten, 
meant

she relented, found her space, little by
little she became, as though grace had 
descended upon her, calm, by however  
infinitesimal degrees, while I continued, 
now, my hopeful, helpful, it appeared,
manifestly mystical, intervention

she had become restful, I’d 
accomplished essentially, I gathered, 
my primary mission, though I 
continued, with some sense, perhaps
even a glow, of personal pridemy 
soulful incantation

then in a voice not much louder than a 
whisper, but much less distraught than 
a moan, she began to join in with row, 
row, row your boat, tunefully, over and 
over again, accommodating herself,
though, naturally, exceedingly weakly,   
to my rhythm, I felt I was experiencing,  
right there, and then, through the    
power of cadence, a miracle

when I looked back, upon hearing 
behind me a rustle, standing at the 
door was her family, wrapped in 
equal consternation 


here’s something with someone singing 
in several inscrutable languages for 
most of us, mostly, words from historical 
texts, in Greek, Latin, Olde English, 
Japanese, and French, I Was Born For 
This

that title, of one of the segments of 
longer work, Journey“, by a contemporary 
composer, Austin Wintoryis indeed a 
translation of Joan of Arc‘s words on the 
cross, “Ne me plaignez pas. C’est pour cela 
que je suis née.”, do not pity me, she says, 
I was born for this, Joan of Arc, my own 
personal Jesus

Shostakovich has an entire symphony,
his 14thcomposed of music to 
accompany classic poems, all in a 
variety of foreign, to him, tongues, but
translated back into Russian for his 
purpose in this particular, and not 
uncommon, instance, nevertheless 
pointed reference to music as superior
more direct, communication – note, here, 
the word, communication – it, the 14th,
is profound, extraordinary, read here 
first, then listen


R ! chard

Lizzie Velasquez redefines beauty


Lizzie Velasquez is not only beautiful,
she’s also a saint, there are many, many
things we can all learn here

here is her recommended TED talk,
with even more things to learn

Richard

Saint Apollonia


"Saint Apollonia" - Francisco de Zurbarán

Saint Apollonia (1636)

Francisco de Zurbarán

___________

who ‘s Saint Apollonia, I asked my dentist
when he suggested I call on her to intercede
in this present mortification, I was sitting in
his chair undergoing treatment for a painful
abscess for which he’d aligned already
several instruments along my lower lip

the patron saint of toothaches, he replied,
as though she were a fairy

who knew, I marvelled, I’d only ever heard
of Saint Jude otherwise, patron saint of
lost causes, memorably

you must’ve been raised Catholic, I
interjected, Protestants don’t have
saints

yes, he stated, suggesting the shared
impact of an, however privately
relinquished, or distant, religion,
upbringing

he didn’t know about her time or place,
and counseled I should look into it

who wouldn’t

principally she lived in Alexandria, her
name alone could have given that away,
if Greeks had become Christian anywhere
it would’ve been in Alexandria then, 250,
a city close to the Christian source,
Palestine, and teeming with international
attention, though ruled long by Greeks,
you’ll remember Cleopatra had been of
Greek origin

in a wave of atrocities perpetrated by
Alexandrian mobs, unleashed during
commemorative festivities – see, for
instance, the Vancouver hockey game
riots to compare – roused by prophecies
of ill winds towards their city, set upon
Christians to appease their more raucous
gods, among them Apollonia

in Vancouver she was London Drugs
and the Bay

they pulled out her teeth, one by one,
which is why she’s represented with
pincers
, that done they threatened to
burn her alive should she not repeat
their profanities

she jumped, instead, herself, onto the
pyre

Jesus, Mary, Joseph, I exclaimed, quite,
quite uncharacteristically, but only other
too objectionable imprecations could’ve
reflected the extent of my consternation,
after that, I thought, what’s an abscess

later I brought him gratefully a bottle of
fine wine, to the fortified gate, however,
of his impervious secretary, though
serenely be she ever smiling, for having
tended with speed and alacrity to my
distress, however unworthy it may
have been of beatification

a French wine or a Marilyn Merlot, Napa
Valley, I had to ponder, bought both,
couldn’t resist, kept for myself, however,
not to render the choice to the intermediate
secretary, the Marilyn, my more familiar, and
headier, saint

cheers

Richard