“Lord, make me an instrument of your peace….” St. Francis of Assisi
Like many of you, the last few weeks I’ve been scrambling to craft an appropriate statement for my chamber choir to make about the murder of George Floyd. I am heartsick, trying to make sense of the difficulty in our country and how it has manifested itself in my own community. It’s difficult because my chamber choir is based in a very diverse and integrated and WONDERFUL area in the southern suburbs of Chicago. I’ve always thought we were untouchable because we are diverse and welcoming and these things happen other places, not here. Well, I was wrong, it HAS happened in our own community and will continue to happen if we allow it to.
I work with an arts alliance in my area and between many emails and a Zoom meeting or two, we decided to make a difference in our own community, arts organization by arts organization. But I wondered, what can my group do—eight to 15 singers with two administrators/music leaders– a small arts organization by any one’s definition?
Of course, there is something we can do, even a small organization such as we. We can denounce what happened to George Floyd and all the George Floyds in our country because of systematic racism. And we can vow to include People of Color in all we do and certainly that became part of our statement.
My chamber choir sings music written for small groups; we are probably thought of as highfalutin in many circles. And we’ve never tried to change the world and then I thought, maybe, just maybe, we can try to change the world, bit by bit, person by person, heart by heart.
As I began to think about how to form my many thoughts into some sort of cohesive statement, a prayer kept coming to me over and over again. It is perfect and expressed perfectly what I wish to say. You may know it or have sung the many choral settings of it, the Peace Prayer by St. Francis of Assisi:
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.
O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
I thought being musicians, becoming an instrument of peace is the perfect and best way for us to change the world. Those small steps we take in our own community can begin our journey of peace-making. And so, I challenge you, fellow ChoralNetters, to become instruments of peace in your community by doing small things and kind things and RIGHT things every day. If we all decide to be instruments of peace, how much better the world would be!
Until next week; be well and safe.
I am taking my Choral Ethics Blogs to my chamber choir’s Facebook page for the foreseeable future. Please join me there this morning!