1. The poetry of old hymns. John Ruth (may he live forever) articulated this beautifully last night. I have been itching to find words for why I keep returning to the oldest hymns, even when the patriarchal language and theology send part of me into a tizzy. It has to do with the fact that we’re singing poetry together.
2. The resonance of a hymn-sing in hardwood-floored gallery. A perfect space for four-part harmony.
3. Singing and reading poetry in a gallery. The hymns and poems and paintings all have a deep sense of structure beneath the surface vibrancy and color. While we sang, while I read, I gazed at Freiman Stoltzfus’s mandala painting on his Symphony of Spring wall. We sang “For the beauty of the earth”–this line caught me: “for the mystic harmony linking sense to sound and sight.” Holy moments. (If you get into Lancaster, you must check out Freiman’s gallery on Prince Street.)
4. Roma and John Ruth. What lovely people! They must be nearing 90, but they’re as crisp and playful as ever, she leading the songs with vigor, he giving vignettes and thoughts on each song, on the state of singing, on how moving it is to watch youtube videos about interspecies interactions. And here is the amazing thing: After I introduced myself to him, I mentioned that we had talked about my great-grandfather 25 years ago. He remembered the conversation (better than I did). He’s written a 1000+-page book in the intervening years, met hundreds of new people, traveled the world, and he could still remember meeting a kid just out of college and researching her family history. What a brilliant mind.
5. Words and word-lovers.
May we walk in Beauty!