The back story is this: for my birthday, my uncle in Holland sent me a photo of my mom and dad that I had never seen before. They are waving goodbye to my aunt and uncle after a visit to Canada.
I sent a file of this photo to my sisters. That wave was so familiar to us, because mom and dad often had occasion to say goodbye as their three daughters made their way in the world. Fran said the wave was like a blessing to us. Then she went on to write this:
“The word "blessing" has been an important one for me this year. I am thinking a lot about blessing as an active word and something that we need to practice more as human beings. Each act of building connection and signaling to some one else "You are not alone" is a blessing. Especially in this time of COVID-19, I think that we are being given a chance to rediscover how to bless each other in this world and to recognize that, in blessing, the connection also blesses us.”
Such wise words for a woman who’s just turned 60!
“Each act of building connection and signaling to someone else ‘You are not alone’ is a blessing... and in blessing, the connection also blesses us.” Yes! So here’s the blog I needed to write today (the crow told me so!)
Two of our grandgirls belong to the Pacific Mennonite Children’s choir in Abbotsford. We have enjoyed their performances tremendously. They’ve won awards.
|the choir receiving their second place trophy at an international choir festival in 2018.|
Their choir director, Betty-Ann Braun, is passionate and skilled. They sang at her wedding several years ago and they love her.
|That's Betty-Ann in the centre of the photo.|
Last year, Betty and her husband had a little boy, Felix Hamish. The baby had many medical challenges, but seemed to be doing well in spite of his limitations. In the meantime, the choir had made plans for a big trip to Scotland to participate in the Stirling Bridge International Arts Festival, Scotland's music festival for choirs, orchestras and bands in July. They were even going to sing at Abbotsford House, the home of Sir Walter Scott, on July 1.Felix's 1st birthday. The kids were super-excited. What an adventure they would have!
And then came March, and Covid happened. The kids prepared themselves emotionally for the cancellation of the trip that was sure to come. But a second blow was harder to accept. Little Felix Hamish died suddenly and unexpectedly in April.
We often think of childhood as a carefree, happy time, but that’s not always true, is it? We cannot shelter our children from reality. Anxiety, depression and sadness are a part of their lives too. It takes the wisdom of Solomon to help them navigate through these dark waters, especially when we ourselves are reeling from our own anxieties in the pandemic.
And this is where the blessing comes in. A young woman in the choir, a high school student and a gifted pianist, wanted to do something to help comfort their director and husband in this enormous loss. The choir had learned a song earlier called “Wynken, Blynken, and Nod,” a lullaby that had been arranged by director Betty-Ann. Recording engineer Phil Janz volunteered to help her. Then she reached out to all the children in the choir asking if they would come in and record this lullaby as a gift for their director and her husband. They came into a church 4 at a time, well separated, and were recorded singing their parts. It took a long, long, evening to get it all done, and many more hours of mixing the recording to showcase these wonderful voices singing words of comfort. But the recording was ready and was played when a few family members gathered at the church for a memorial service.
“Each act of building connection and signaling to someone else ‘You are not alone’ is a blessing,” wrote my sister this morning. In blessing others, we ourselves are also blessed.
It seems to me that these children and young people did something beautiful that said, “You are not alone!” We can’t all sing or make a recording, but we can reach out in our own way to bring a shower of blessings to this world.
We can say, in our own way, “You are not alone.”
Recently, Betty-Ann sent out a note with links to the song and a video of the baby. She wrote:
1. Kevin Schut put together a video for the PMCC youtube channel highlighting the singers of PMCC: https://youtu.be/jUGiUTjzqj8
2. I made a video with pictures of Felix: https://youtu.be/dKsj0I1i2i0
Feel free to share either with friends and family.
Thank-you again to PMCC for making such a beautiful recording.
Pacific Mennonite Children's Choir
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