When the Veil is Removed

In most cities in the U.S. “downtown” refers to the bad part of town, the part you don’t venture into after dark if you can at all help it. I am blessed to live in a city where downtown is a cultural center. The River waterfalls gently, and a park has been carved out around it. Small shops and restaurants abound. I love downtown. I go whenever I can. Yesterday I found myself walking downtown, only to be pleasantly surprised to see that this month local artists are opening their studios to the public. I love art of all sorts, whether it be a well-written book, an exquisitely performed sonata, or a marvelous painting. I could not pass this opportunity by not only to view art, but to talk with its creators! May I just remark as an aside that artists are often tagged as a bit bizarre, and while some may warrant this, most are simply lovely people.

The first studio I entered showcased the works of two artists – a husband/wife team. Only here disaster had struck. The husband had died earlier this year. The art was beautiful, and I really enjoyed talking with the Widow. She told me the stories of the paintings. I continued on to her studio-mate’s area. The three of us started talking about art, and somehow I ended up telling them my dreams of being an opera singer. Well, of course, they asked me to sing, and I obliged. Compliments ensued, but then something transpired that doesn’t usually happen for me: the Widow ducked into her studio and came back with a gift. She gave me a print of a painting of a girl. She is standing in a room, hiding behind a checkered blanket. “She reminds me of you,” the Widow said, “when she comes out from behind the blanket.”

I am honoured by the Widow’s gift. I, too, have experienced loss. I hope that I brought her some joy in her world that has turned upside-down. I pray for her to be comforted.

Requiem

Grant them eternal rest, O Lord,
and let perpetual light shine upon them.

So begins the Verdi Requiem. Over 200 musicians have banded together at my university to perform this beautiful work.

A requiem is about death. Many people have written them, many more have enjoyed them, wept through them, and come out more whole. Death is a universal phenomenon. We cannot escape it. And so there will always be mourning on this earth. Several years ago my father and brother were killed in a 4-wheeling accident. As you may imagine, it has not been an easy time for my family as we have struggled to continue with our lives. But with God’s help we are moving on. I have come to realize that the pain never really goes away. You learn to live with it just like you learn to live with back pain or chronic headaches. But there is something healing about acknowledging that the pain is there and praying for it to be relieved. That is what the Verdi Requiem is to me. I am so grateful for a chance to sing this for my loved ones.

And the best part is that I know they are in heaven and that when my turn comes to die I will see them again.