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Posts Tagged ‘grace’

And am I born to die? To lay this body down!

Easter is not a holiday I feel much of an attachment to. However, I was reminded this week of a specific time in my life, a new friend I once had, her life and death.

8 years ago, I began singing Sacred Harp every Tuesday night at the Helen Hills Hills Chapel on the Smith College campus in Northampton, Massachusetts.

I got to know Mirjana Lausovic at the Tuesday night sing a few years later after she moved back to the area from Minnesota with her husband and 2 young children.

Minja, as she was known, was one of the strongest women I have ever met—happy, practical, full of joy and life, big in presence and physicality; loved her kids, huge heart. Everything about her was open and present—she was buxom, full-lipped, had big eyes and a big smile, and of course, a powerful voice. Formidable was the word that came to mind the first time I saw her. She was easily approachable and had a humility I draw from to this day.

Minja had beautiful silver hair and it was cut short. I, too, kept my hair short and we joked together about haircuts, how it didn’t really matter who cut it or how: no muss, no fuss. I never knew why her hair was short and gray; she was, after all, a couple of years younger then me.

When I began to sing in the Sacred Harp group, in 2004, I had a difficult time socially. If it hadn’t been for my fierce love of the sound, my determination to add a creative endeavor for myself after years at home raising my daughters; if it hadn’t been for my training as a teacher of the Alexander Technique, I would have bagged out. I found the group strange and clique-y; I didn’t understand the social dynamics. I heard a lot of talk of “welcoming the newcomer,” but my presence seemed less than welcome. I was baffled and spent many a Tuesday night filled with the joy and satisfaction of learning a new, powerful way of singing, but with an undercurrent of my own sadness and anger at feeling on the periphery of a group [supposedly] dedicated to a communal tradition of song.

Minja was a remedy for all of that, a breath of holy spirit.

She died less than 2 years after I met her. It was a shock to me because I didn’t know her history—she had had breast cancer and pulled through several years earlier and this was apparently a recurrence. They left town one day in July of 2007 and she died 2 weeks later, on my birthday, something I recognize as a great gift.

I remember the evening before Tim and Minja and the kids were leaving town. I had prepared a little card and a bundle of ribboned lavender from my garden. When I handed the card to her, my instinct was to walk away so she could open it at her leisure, no pressure to say she liked it in case she didn’t, nor to respond to the words therein. But she said, emphatically, “Can I open it now? I want to open it NOW.” It was so much her, living for the moment, taking a bite out of whatever life presented.

♦ ♦ ♦

Today, I watched as my daughter’s Agricultural Arts teacher introduced 5 new colonies of bees to the existing hives on the school’s campus. Nicki told us that the worker bees, all of whom are female, do not lay their own eggs, in deference to the queen’s laying.

I saw the first tulips open in my side garden bed.

I am preparing a dish for dinner with eggs from my neighbor’s chickens, a salad with greens from a local farm.

Sometimes I receive emails from a fellow parent at my daughter’s school and they close with the statement “Walk in the light, wherever you may be.” Some days I begin to know what this means.

Today is Passover; tomorrow is Easter. I know I have been delivered, here and now, to the center of a swirl of abundance that I call home, the earth.

♦ ♦ ♦

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