I have not set foot in a Catholic Church except for the odd tourist visit or funeral/wedding for at least a decade. I grew up a 5 mass a week singer in the choir Catholic, went to a Catholic University. Then I married a nice Jewish boy whose mother told me I was completing the work of Hitler. And my parish priest told me if I didn’t have a nice Catholic wedding and raise nice Catholic children, then 1) he couldn’t attend my nuptials even as a guest and 2) my children would all be bastards. I never have been able to make other people happy. Anyway, all my bastards have nice Jewish identities and I make a mean matzo ball, the best gluten free latkes in the Midwest, and I can welcome in the Shabbat bride with the best of them, in case anyone is interested. We’ve given up most red meat so my brisket is irrelevant at this point, but as shiksa wives go, I pass for a tribal member. I set up a tree each year because I have to, and it’s a yarzheit for my father—and we go to my brothers house for most blatantly Christian holidays.
But last night, I raced over to my neighborhood Catholic Church to join the choir for Holiday Pops at a fancy schmantzy downtown venue. The chance to sing in a SATB choir of 120 was just too good to pass up. Plus I get to see my buddy Linda who talked me into it.
I love to sing in a choir. When you are part of an ensemble, you crawl inside the music in an up close personal way. And when you get it, when you find the groove when you are singing in harmony with that wall of sound, you hook into this vibration that just makes your molecules happy. I hang out a whole bunch at the opera and I just love it there, but listening is not the same total body experience that singing and listening at the same time is---because to be a good choir singer, you have to fit in to the crowd perfectly. When you are working at blending you are completely alive using all of your senses at once—thinking, hearing, seeing, feeling, --well maybe not taste, except during breaks: this choir has home baked treats at breaks!
I have never been a choir leader—I follow the strong singers where ever they lead most of the time, until I know the music like my own heartbeat and one of the strong ones is out sick—then I step up and hold my own. And I can barely read music. But I can let the sounds take over my body, and then I can hit it and really contribute. Come to think of it, choir is a metaphor for a lot of organizations I have been in. Stumbling along on intuition and chutzpah and doing an okay job and contributing. It would be nice if government was more like a choir.
So for the next two months I have my guilty pleasure, slipping back to my roots of long ago and singing Christmas carols that are buried in my limbic brain in four part harmony.