Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Voices lifted to the night sky

By the waters

the waters of Babylon

We lay down and wept

and wept for thee Zion

We remember thee remember

thee remember thee Zion

Two family friends, sisters Montserrat and Maximilian, led a small group in singing "Babylon" at sunset. We were a dozen or so family/friends remaining at my father-in-law's house in Venice Beach and we'd walked out to do one of his favorite things--watch the sunset. (It was a gray sunset, not this one that I'd shot another day. I wasn't taking pictures during the wake.)

We learned the three verses and sang in rounds. I couldn't have asked for a more perfect way to end an incredible day. My heart swelled and soared. I think from the expressions around me that the singing did the same for everyone else. Thank you so much, ladies, for pulling us into that circle.

The lyrics are based on a Psalm. Besides use by Jewish and Christian religious groups, many composers and poets have borrowed from or referenced these powerful words. Among them, Giuseppe Verdi, Stephen Schwartz, Don McLean, T.S. Eliot, Stephen Vincent Benet, Paulo Coelho.

That long link to culture would have pleased Ken. He and his wife, Fern, surrounded themselves with friends who were writers, artists and musicians.

In the house, we put dozens of his photographic prints around and a slide show of his pictures. At least fifty people came, bearing love.
I'm still in an emotional--highly-charged but also very drained--state. I'm going to be making a move back to Venice and trying not to lose the momentum on my dark fairy tale, which is two-thirds complete. So my blogging may be sporadic during the next couple of months. I will visit you all when I can. As always, I thank you so much for visiting me. Peace.


Tere Kirkland said...

Tricia, your absence will be missed, but if ever I need to be reminded of the beauty that lies unseen all around us, I will look at the photos in your old posts and try to enjoy the here and now.

Love and luck to you for your move (my husband and I are hunting for our first home, so I understand how draining that can be by itself), and for your wip, but most of all, I hope that soon you can remember Ken and Fern without feeling any pain, only the love that they felt for you.

See you soon,

Liza said...

While I know how hard your mourning is, I am glad that you had a Ken in your life to touch you so deeply. Wishing you peace and soft feelings.

Unknown said...

I'm so sorry for your loss but I'm glad you had such a wonderful day. Hope you have a safe journey.

Jemi Fraser said...

What a lovely idea for a wake. I bet he would have loved it - sounds like just his kind of thing.

Take care of yourself and good luck with the story! *hugs*

Donna said...

I can picture you and Ken's friends singing at sunset. May you do as Tere says, remember the love without the pain.

Yvonne Osborne said...

Good luck with your move and finishing your dark fairy tale. I look forward to reading it and visiting Venice again. Maybe I'll see you on the beach. Be well.

Faith Pray said...

My thoughts and best wishes are with you. As always, you share your story with such beautiful words and images. The sunset singing sounds like a perfect send off. Peace and comfort to you, and extra good writerly juices for the fairy tale.

LynNerdKelley said...

What a beautiful wake, befitting the father-in-law you loved so much. Your pain and love come through so strong, and my heart goes out to you at this difficult time.

I wish you the best with the move and in finishing up your WIP.

storyqueen said...

This post was lovely.

Moving back to Venice sounds wonderful. Seems like the beach is always calling to you...now you will be closer!

Sometimes, in the middle of chaos, creativity grows strongest.

Wishing you the best with DFT (dark fairy tale.)


Sarah Laurence said...

I love that hymn. We used to sing at school in rounds. It must have been a moving service. Such a lovely gesture to end it with a sunset beach walk. My thoughts are with you and your family still. Hang in there.

Claire Dawn said...

Travel safely and take care in the interim.

Suzanne Casamento said...

So beautiful. What a moment of love and transcendence.

Anonymous said...

I have sung that round many times and with many different people. That kind of singing can be transformative and put you into a heightened state of awareness. I'm glad you had a meaningful and beautiful ceremony to honor your father-in-law. My thoughts are with you.

Maria Cisneros Toth Blog said...

Your post brought tears to my eyes, Pat. I am so very sorry for your deep loss. Ken and Fern just sound like the most wonderful in-laws anyone could ever hope for. What a legacy they have left to inspire others.

This is the first I am hearing about your move to Venice. I can't even begin to grasp the idea of you not being at critique every Tuesday. But sometimes we have to go where we feel we need to be.
Life is ever changing...

And I know you'll finish your fairytale. Afterall, we have to find out what happens to Bane. Can't leave him with Hespeth. Maybe there's a nice shady ledge, back on the castle rooftop, where Bane can perch on at the end of the story.

Anyhow, I love all of your wonderfuly stories. :-)

Take care!

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Everyone: I can't tell you how much your beautiful comments mean. Thank you all so much.
I hope to always keep singing and writing and wish the same to all of you.

Jan Morrison said...

Tricia, being caught up in my own drama of late I've missed a lot of posts. I read this one today and was touched by your words. The Waters of Babylon is one of my favourite songs and my friends know it is to be sung at my sukhaviti (Buddhist funeral). I first heard it sung by the amazing accapella gospel group "Sweet Honey on the Rock" years ago.
I was talking about the nature of grieving with one of my best friends today. Her mother died two weeks ago and I've been grieving the death of my dad in the spring. We said that unlike other intense and uncomfortable emotions - this one we want to bear. My pain sometimes feel unbearable but I never turn away from it as it has only love at its core.
much love to you...

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Jan: I'm so glad you came along when you did. I've gone to a Sweet Honey concert, too! They are amazing. I think you picked wisely for your sukhaviti. I agree with you about the nature of this kind of grieving. It is to be embraced not shunned. Peace and love to you, too.