By Adil James, MMNS
Three members of the Threshold Choir of Ann Arbor sing at the East West Center on Airport Rd. in Ann Arbor.
Photo by Steve Lyskawa
Ann Arbor–January 24–Three very different singing groups performed together at a Divine Language of Music Chanting special at the Interfaith Center for Spiritual Growth at 704 Airport Rd. in Ann Arbor Sunday night.
An audience of about 120 people packed a beautiful room lit by candles, with paintings on the walls designed to represent spiritual teachings, and symbols around the room of cosmological things like the stars and moon.
Norma Gentile sang first–she is a recording artist of four solo musical CDs, 10 Meditation and teaching CDs. She sings in a way designed to connect to spiritual powers.
Also singing were The Threshold Choir, which may be of slightly more interest to a Muslim audience. The Threshold Choir, represented Sunday by about 15 singers, sings at the bedsides of people–sometimes bedsides of people who are dying, sometimes bedsides of people who are sick or in comas. The Threshold Choir actually has branches all over the United States and in Canada as well, although they began in the Bay Area of California (where they now have several branches).
â€œWe sing in small pairs or small groups in hospices, hospitals, nursing homes, and private homes when we are invited by family or caregivers,â€ explains their website.
At the Center for Spiritual Growth the Ann Arbor brach of the choir did a demonstration of several of their songs, including a rehearsed bedside singing ceremony.
The songs they sang at the event were all in English, including one called â€œBreathe in, cherish yourself, breathe out, cherish the world,â€ and another one which is a Navajo prayer, â€œWhen you were born, you cried and the world rejoiced, live your life so that when you die, you rejoice and the world cries.â€
The Threshold Choir is a womenâ€™s only choir which is in fact a kind of spiritual guidance–beginning singers are welcomed from all faith backgrounds but are trained for a period of months before they actually perform for people at their bedsides.
Finally there was a Sufi chanting group which chanted the Shahada and Allahâ€™s Holy Names, and there was a drum accompaniment and also there were whirling dervishes; Mr. Kamau Ayyubi explained the dervishes hold their right hand up high and extend their left down, representing bringing Divine benefits to this world.