Everybody in the choir is in recovery from addiction except one young woman, whose mother is. They met in rehab. They sing only songs they've written themselves, out of their own experience. This provides more than enough material, since their experience consists of having been raised from the dead.
We made an interesting double bill: I went first, speaking about New York during the recovery effort after the bombing of the World Trade Center and New York now. Their instruments were already set up behind me, along with a bank of large geraniums in pots -- an homage to the Farm. A few thoughtful comments from the audience when I finished my talk, and I was done. The geraniums disppeared to make way for the choir.
They sang, and in between songs choir members spoke briefly about where they had been and how God had led them out of there. More than one of them found the story of what New Yorkers have gained from surviving tragedy a familiar tale. They already knew about learning from something you wish with all your heart had never happened, about losing absolutely everything and then feeling the first stirrings of new life right in the ashes of what can never be regained.
Most of the songs had a heavy bass line: that and the rhythmic swaying of the choir made it impossible not to clap along. "One Day At A Time," went the refrain of one of the songs, and we sang it over and over and over. I woke this morning still hearing it, and I always pay close attention to my first waking thought.
""Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof," Jesus said: One day at a time. I can deprive myself completely of today's blessings by living in anger about yesterday or in dread of tomorrow. Yesterday is over -- I can't fix anything in it. Tomorrow may not come for me -- none of us get a guaranteed tomorrow. I have only today, the moment I am in right now.
Of course you have to plan for the future, as best you can. Of course you have to clean up the messes you made in the past, as best you can. But you can't live in either place. We only live now. If "now" is a place of pain, be present to it and let it be a piercing reminder of that for which you long. Let it burn the extraneous nonsense right out of you, as it certainly will do, leaving only the gold of what is truly important. If "now" is a place of sunshine, be present to it. There will be other moments when you will need the memory of it.
The evening was over. The choir packed up its instruments. We hugged our good-byes, a brief season of acquaintance among people who felt as if they had known each other longer than they had. They're making a CD of their music, they tell me; I want to hear it when it's finished. Music about being raised from the dead. I hope "One Day at At Time" is on it.