“Find your pitch and hum it,” Donna said on the first morning of the seventh annual SoulStream Partner Gathering at Sorrento Centre. We hummed in harmony and in unison following her instructions. Then she stopped and remarked how beautiful we sounded. “That child that told you to stop singing, that music teacher that wanted you to just mouth the words, they were incorrect. You can sing. Every voice matters,” she said.
I noticed Susan looking up at Donna. She was listening intently and smiling. Her face bore such a sacred witness to this truth that I was moved to tears.
The night before, the twelve months of the year were posted around the meeting room. We were asked to go and stand under our birth month. I was the only May baby, so Laurel left April to join me. I looked at the first question we were invited to talk about and tears began to form at the base of my throat.
Laurel shared a memory of a birthday party she enjoyed.
“I can’t remember my birthday parties,” I said. I was relieved the question didn’t ask about a sad memory, so I didn’t need to tell her about the year it was Hate Esther Day on my birthday. But of course, that was the next question. So I did and tears filled my eyes.
Saturday afternoon we had a “Cinema Divina.” We watched an animated short called The Dam Keeper. It’s about a young pig who has the job of keeping the darkness from coming into the town and how he is rejected and bullied by others that attend his school.
After the film and a few minutes of silence, we broke into small groups. I didn’t know how deeply I was affected by the film until I tried to tell Fred and Glen about the scene that impacted me the most. I could barely get my words out for the flood of tears.
Eventually, I said, “I loved how the fox reached out to the pig, but my strongest emotion was when I saw the crocodile and hippo drag the pig into the washroom and close the door.”
Saturday night a band played oldies but goodies in the open air Kekuli. We shed our “dance shame,” as Brent put it, and had fun dancing in twos or threes, alone or with a broom. When we knew the words, we’d sing along.
Laurel made eye contact with me from the other side of the Kekuli and invited me to slow dance. “We’re celebrating your birthday,” she said. When everyone sang, “I can’t help falling in I love you,” she sang it to me and my tears returned.
Sunday morning, Doug and Laurel challenged Jeff and me to a game of bocce on the lawn. “Come on,” Laurel said to me. “It’s what you do at birthday parties.” We were tied after the first two games, then Jeff and I won the rubber. They may say they let us win, but I wouldn’t believe them if I were you.
Near the end of worship on Sunday morning, Irene read Psalm 23 from Nan Merrill’s Psalms for Praying. The last line stirred up my tears again. “And I shall dwell in the heart of the Beloved forever.”
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of all my fears;
you bless me with oil,
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy will
all the days of my life;
and I shall dwell in the heart
of the Beloved
Nan C. Merrill,
Psalms for Praying: An Invitation to Wholeness
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The Dam Keeper is a 2014 American animated short film directed by former Pixar art directors Robert Kondo and Daisuke Tsutsumi. It tells the story of Pig, an introverted youth who lives in a windmill and keeps a dark fog from engulfing his town. Although socially rejected by his peers, he is befriended by the artistic Fox (Wikipedia). I wonder what love-mischief will happen to you when you watch this film and talk about it with others.