Friday, December 21, 2012

Farewell to a Righteous Woman

As some of you know, my mother died on December 15. She had asked me to sing the great Negro spiritual "My Lord, What a Morning" at her funeral, which I was able to do in part because of the impressive sangfroid I'd developed over years as a professional singer, and in part because it occurred to me that this was the whole reason I'd become a singer in the first place.

My mother was a righteous woman who loved God, and who was inspired by this love to do good works in her community, especially for the benefit of disadvantaged urban children. In her long suffering I worried sometimes that she was losing her faith, but my worry, I now think, reflects on my own weak faith and understanding of God, for certainly God knows the effects of illness and medication, and, as we know, he did not send His son to condemn, but to redeem.

When I read the Mass readings for today, I imagined that Christ might be speaking these words to my mother (who, incidentally, did have a beautiful speaking voice):

Hark! my lover--here he comes
springing across the mountains,
leaping across the hills.
My lover is like a gazelle
or a young stag.
Here he stands behind our wall,
gazing through the windows,
peering through the lattices.
My lover speaks; he says to me,
"Arise, my beloved, my dove, my beautiful one,
and come!
"For see, the winter is past,
the rains are over and gone.
The flowers appear on the earth,
the time of pruning the vines has come,
and the song of the dove is heard in our land.
The fig tree puts forth its figs,
and the vines, in bloom, give forth fragrance.
Arise, my beloved, my beautiful one,
and come!

"O my dove in the clefts of the rock,

in the secret recesses of the cliff,
Let me see you,
let me hear your voice,
For your voice is sweet,
and you are lovely."

19 comments:

Emily J. said...

Prayerful condolences on the loss of your mother, Pentimento. What a beautiful tribute. May she rest in peace.

Sally Thomas said...

This is beautiful. My prayers have been with you. And I am not surprised, but nonetheless impressed that you were able to sing for her: how exactly right and fitting.

May God grant her the peace and joy of his presence, and may he grant you consolation.

Anne-Marie said...

Prayers for her rest, and for your comfort, Pentimento.

I love that reading--we chose it for my grandmother's funeral, a woman who had rarely been the "beloved one" of anyone in her life.

mrsdarwin said...

Surely your own love and talents are a great testament to your mother. May she now intercede for troubled mothers everywhere.

GretchenJoanna said...

My condolences - may your mother rest in the peace of the Lord. Your comments are an eloquent honor to her and a witness to the goodness and mercy of God - how blessed your thought about the importance of the event of her funeral, that it was enough to make all your training and art worth that one gift.

Lizzie said...

Beautiful Pentimento and my prayers are with you are your family. God bless you and your mother's soul. May she rest in peace.

ex-new yorker said...

Mrs. Darwin said it really well.

Mrs C said...

I'm so sorry for your loss. Love, Mrs C.

Clare Krishan said...

Eternal rest, Grant unto her, O Lord.
and may perpetual light shine upon her
Amen

Was your mother as big a Joan Baez fan as mine?
http://www.last.fm/music/Joan+Baez/_/My+Lord+What+A+Morning

Don't let condolences on Christmas Eve leave your spirit weary. Even the Dies Irae mentions the reason for the season: Hope!

Recordare, Iesu pie,
Quod sum causa tuæ viæ:
Ne me perdas illa die.

Think, good Jesus, my salvation
cost thy wondrous Incarnation;
leave me not to reprobation!
or
Remember, merciful Jesus,
that I am the cause of thy way:
lest thou lose me in that day.

p.s.
perhaps add some figgy pudding (in honor of scriptural synchronicities)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frumenty
to your family feast as a way to honor all the unknown fruits nurtured with the milk of maternal kindness?

Clare Krishan said...

recipe here
http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Cookbook:Figgy_Pudding

Pentimento said...

Thank you all for your prayers and encouragement. I have been moved by everything in this combox, and particularly by your mention, Anne-Marie, that your grandmother was seldom anyone's beloved. To be that beloved one is what we all yearn for, and thank God we have His own promise that that is what we are and what we will know ourselves to be when we are able to see Him as He is. I wish you all a happy Christmas and much love.

priest's wife said...

eternal memory! I read your earlier post about her- what an extraordinary woman!

Pentimento said...

Thank you, Priest's Wife. Yesterday was a month since her death -- it's been so hard.

Anonymous said...

My mother is with your mother. They get to sing. A couple weeks ago at Mass the OT reading was from Isaiah, and I teared up remembering how Mom used to sing those same words in Handel arias. Requiescat in pace. TQ

Pentimento said...

Thank you, TQ. I have to say it's been very, very hard without my mother thus far. I know you know what I mean.

Sheila said...

God bless you. I know you were waiting for this time, but I don't know if that makes it harder or easier, or if there is such a thing as "harder or easier" when it comes to death. What a gift, that you could sing for her. And what a gift she brought into the world--you, I mean.

I love your thoughts about the scripture passage. How beautiful, how truly beautiful.

Pentimento said...

Thank you, Sheila.

Elizabeth K. said...

I'm so sorry. It is so hard to lose a parent. Praying for her eternal rest, and for your comfort in this difficult time.

Pentimento said...

Thank you, Elizabeth.