Due to the combined talent of director, Robert Gaus, and an amazing collection of gifted musicians, singers, instrumentalists, young and old, a concert/prayer service for the feast of All Souls has become an annual event at St. Joseph's Church in Kingston, New York. This was my home parish for over twenty-five years. I have been asked to attend in this beautiful event many times, always refusing. But this time, I asked permission to take part, because my dearest friend died during the last year. Since she was buried from this parish, her name would be mentioned in the list of the recently departed. As it turned out, I was second narrator for the service along with a Deacon of the parish. He and I were asked to write a reflection to introduce one of the musical pieces.
It was made apparent by the number of people present that this has become a tradition for many. Everyone received a flower as they entered and could write the name/s of their beloved dead in a book provided. The flowers and the books were brought forward to the altar during as all the names were solemnly read out. The quality of the musicianship was outstanding - full age-range of voices, piano, cello, violin, flute, guitar and drums. The participation of a large well-prepared children's choir was really special and such wonderful exposure for these young people.
Here is my reflection/introduction for "Goin' Home."
Experts say that the memory of music is among the last to leave us. The melody you are about to hear may jog your memory to say, "I think I have heard that somewhere before." It is from the largo movement of Antonin Dvorak's New World Symphony. The story is that during his long tour of the United States at the end of the 19th century, Dvorak who was a Czech, heard black men , former slaves, working in the fields and singing the tune, an expression of heir longing for a better place, their longing for home.
Most of us long for home all our lives; perhaps the idealized home of our childhood; perhaps the home of which were deprived by unfortunate circumstances; or our eternal home - our baptismal right - and the relief it brings from the trials of this temporary place. Some times we get stalled and need our internal GPS system to kick in and guide us in pursuit of our deepest longing; the Desire for our true home, union with God. Our beloved dead struggled with their longings and desires of every kind. Those longings have surely been satisfied for "eye has not seen, no ear has heard, no mind has imagined the things God had prepared for those who love Him."