Toward the Upper Room, photo & all text © Irene O’Garden, 2014
Ever since I first learned to wash dishes and endure long car rides with siblings, I have dearly loved singing harmony. But I can’t join a conventional singing group. John and I travel so much that I would miss many rehearsals.
Last fall, however, I saw a request for singers. A “Threshold Choir” was forming locally, requiring only one rehearsal a month. What sent intuition’s shiver up my spine, however, was the choir’s destination and purpose: when invited, to offer the simple gift of song at the bedsides of those who are dying. Those on The Threshold.
The songs are simple, non-denominational, just what you might want on your way out: “You’ve been loved, deeply loved,” goes one. Images of light, spirit and comfort.
I know that one reason I was prompted to this service was my spontaneous discovery years ago that when Alzheimer’s had carried off all my mother’s words, we were still able to sing together. How her face beamed. Mine, too, I’m sure.
After several months of practice, our small group has now begun singing at bedsides. Suffice it to say, it is an intimate privilege, indeed.
I did not intend to post about it, but changed my mind when I received a link this week to an NPR story about Threshold Choirs. Over a hundred have formed across North America since Kate Munger created the first one in 2000. It occurred to me you may have a loved one who might benefit from this service. Or you might feel the same shiver I did when learning about them, and be drawn, as was I, to a bit of midwifery toward the next world, singing lullabies to lives.