Feb 5, 2011 is the eight month anniversary of my husband, Rodney’s death.
I didn’t anticipate the anniversary day, but it becomes a day of happenings.
It all starts at worship that morning. I look to see what the scripture is and gulp. I can’t believe what I am seeing: Isaiah 40: 21-31. This passage ends with:
“Those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”
Rodney and I sang those words for years. First, in our work with the Institute of Cultural Affairs. Later just in our family. For many years these words have been meaningful for both of us.
Then in the afternoon, another happening. To the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts to hear Mahler’s 2nd Symphony. Mark Ball, our choir director goes with me. I have not heard this symphony before but as I listened to it on Saturday on YouTube I know it is special. It is called the Resurrection Symphony so I look up the program notes…the description is powerful and blessed. Memories of Rodney swim through my head throughout the performance. Mahler’s music is beyond sublime.
From The Program Notes:
Resurrection, Symphony No. 2 in C minor Gustav Mahler
The composer wrote of the Symphony: “1st movement. We stand by the coffin of a well-loved person. His life, struggles, passions and aspirations once more, for the last time, pass before our mind’s eye. — And now in this moment of gravity and of emotion which convulses our deepest being, our heart is gripped by a dreadfully serious voice which always passes us by in the deafening bustle of daily life: What now? What is this life — and this death? Do we have an existence beyond it? Is all this only a confused dream, or do life and this death have a meaning? — And we must answer this question if we are to live on.
(No intermission…but a 5 minutes pause for reflection and meditation between the 1st and 2nd movements.)
“2nd movement — Andante (in the style of a Ländler). You must have attended the funeral of a person dear to you and then, perhaps, the picture of a happy hour long past arises in your mind like a ray of sun undimmed — and you can almost forget what has happened.
“3rd movement — Scherzo, based on Des Antonius von Padua Fischpredigt. When you awaken from the nostalgic daydream [of the preceding movement] and you return to the confusion of real life, it can happen that the ceaseless motion, the senseless bustle of daily activity may strike you with horror. Then life can seem meaningless, a gruesome, ghostly spectacle, from which you may recoil with a cry of disgust!
“4th movement — Urlicht (mezzo-soprano solo). The moving voice of naïve faith sounds in our ear: I am of God, and desire to return to God! God will light me to eternal bliss!
“5th movement. We again confront all the dreadful questions and the mood of the end of the first movement. The Last Judgment is announced and the ultimate terror of this Day of Days has arrived. The ‘Great Summons’ resounds: the trumpets of the apocalypse call. Softly there sounds a choir of saints and heavenly creatures: ‘Thou shalt rise again.’ And the glory of God appears. All is still and blissful. And behold: there is no judgment; there are no sinners, no righteous ones, no great and no humble — there is no punishment and no reward! An almighty love shines through us.”
The words for soloists and chorus:
Oh red rose! Man lies in deepest need, Man lies in deepest pain. Much would I rather be in heaven!
Then I came onto a broad path: An angel came and wanted to send me away. Ah, no! I would not be sent away. I am from God and will return to God! Dear God will give me a light, Will illumine me to eternal, blessed life!
*** Chorus and Soprano
Rise again, yes you will rise again, my dust, after a short rest: Immortal life will He who called you grant to you.
To bloom again you are sown! The Lord of the harvest goes and gathers sheaves, even us, who died!
O believe, my heart, o believe, Nothing will be lost to you! What you longed for is yours, Yours, what you have loved, what you have struggled for!
O believe, You were not born in vain! You have not lived in vain, Suffered in vain!
What was created must pass away! What has passed away must rise! Cease trembling! Prepare yourself to live!
Soprano and Mezzo-Soprano
O suffering! You that pierce all things, From you have I been wrested! O death! You that overcome all things, now you are overcome!
With wings that I have won for myself in the fervent struggle of love, I shall fly away to the light which no eye has pierced.
Chorus I shall die in order to live!
Soloists and Chorus
Rise again, yes you will rise again, my heart, in the twinkling of an eye! What you have conquered will carry you to God!