I want to sing like the birds sing, not worrying who hears or what they think. Rumi
At the Tour de France, high up on the Col de Galibier, surrounded by snowcapped peaks, with views so expansive it seemed as though we could lift off and fly forever, up so high above the clouds, even our cells were singing. And it wasn’t strange at all among thousands of strangers who didn’t seem like strangers to be wearing headbands with huge glittering U.S.A. letters sticking straight up, waving our flags and singing with the Luxumbergers and the Norsemen who were wearing their Norsemen horns, it didn’t seem strange at all belting out songs we didn’t even know and yelling at the top of our lungs, “Allez allez allez”. No one seemed to care what note anyone else was hitting. It was pure joyous expression.
And the crows, the baby crows in our backyard have been singing in their own tune all summer long. The babies just belt it out, their crooked little crow-cries, every morning at dawn. And now, it’s the coyotes, just after dusk, this past few nights. Not far away, perhaps behind the horse farm across from Joy Center, the parents are teaching the young ones to howl. I can almost see them all sitting there, heads tipped back, throats open and ready, letting it out, letting it all out. Who cares if they sing in tune?
So, why did I feel shaken last night, all stirred up at a Joy Center event? Toni Saari, silversmith and musician was centerstage singing her heart out, up there with her acoustic guitar and a stream of notes that flew through the Joy Center rafters. Patsy Cline and Joan Baez, Rod Stewart and some of her own creations. A song entitled Michelangelo stirred me to my bones. It all did. I wanted to sing like that. I wanted to tip my head back like those coyotes, like Toni in her vintage dress and ponytail and sing my heart out, too. Even if my voice comes out more baby crow than singer hitting that perfect on-key note. We all have that desire to express the song in our heart — in the exhilarating holler at the Tour de France, in the howl in the northern woods on a full moon night, with our own flock at a Joy Center event.
I love the scene in My best Friend’s Wedding when Cameron Diaz’s character is hoodwinked into getting up there in a bar to sing Karaoke. At first she’s cautious, but soon, in her glorious off-key voice, she belts it out, the song in her heart. She wins us over; we love her because she goes for it. She’s living full-out.
So after the performance last evening, an idea came to some of us who of course can’t sing like Toni because we’re not Toni but want to sing nonetheless — an evening at Joy Center this autumn where we get to be the crows on the white pine cawing our songs, the coyotes lined up on the edge of the ridge howling at the top of our lungs, an evening where we who maybe have kept our musical mouths shut for fear of what others might think of our I Love Lucy voices, let it rip. And Toni has volunteered to be our fearless leader in a night of no wrong notes, a night of glorious singing, singing our glorious hearts out.