Why I Sing: David Hansen

I’ve been having one of those days. Today is the last day of the Legislature and I’ve been at the Capitol among the gold rails and the marble columns all day. Things haven’t gone well for me or my clients. Even without any political commentary, it’s hard to have good days when unemployment is up, tax revenues are down, needs are high and many times desperate, and there seem to be few palatable solutions. The inevitable partisan bickering and lack of listening makes matters worse.

Still, if the Legislature was all I could complain about, I could go home and watch a new episode of Lost and forget about it all for a while. Unfortunately, today I also learned that two of my close friends from work are dying. Neither is old enough to die. One has malignant ovarian cancer which has spread to her liver after three rounds of chemotherapy and radiation. The doctors give her months to live. The other was at work last week and seemed to be doing fine – just a normal week. On Thursday she started to feel poorly and called in sick on Friday. By Monday morning they were doing emergency surgery on her abdomen to try and relieve the pressure of a life threatening strep infection. She had a temperature of 107, her kidneys had completely shut down and her heart was failing. At the moment, only the machines keep her alive and she’s in a deep coma.

These are good people. Crazy and unexpected illnesses just shouldn’t happen to folks like this. As the session ended, I dragged myself to my car parked overlooking Memory Grove on the East side of the Capitol. I looked out over that vast dark expanse to where somewhere on the other side of the ridge my friend was struggling for her life in LDS Hospital – imagining her family by her side, and wondering how this happened so suddenly.

Not feeling well, I turned on my ipod to try and calm myself for my ride home, and up popped UCA singing the Offeratory from Faure’s Requiem. You can hear it in your mind can’t you – the strings start low and sad. Then the altos/tenor duet begins in almost a whisper, “O Domine, Jesus Christe, Rex Gloriae, libera animas de functorum.” In English, “O God, Jesus Christ, Glorious King, deliver our souls from death.”

It soared. I was transported and I wept. I cried for my friends who were dying, and I cried for others that were suffering. But I also cried for joy. Amidst all the terrible things this life throws at us, it also gives us the most glorious sweetness and peace imaginable. Not only that, but I get to participate. That music lifted me. For that moment it saved me. And I realized that this is why life is worth the struggle. We scratch and claw and make our way as best we’re able, but when we get at the nub of the matter, life is worth living because we can create or participate in lifting or helping one another or stirring their souls.

Such beauty at that moment made the Legislature seem trivial. What they will do will fade and die, but love and music provide a reason for our existence. That’s why I love UCA. I love rehearsal (don’t tell Barlow!). It’s all worth the effort and work to lift those around us. It’s why I sing.

originally written in February 2010

If you’d like to hear Faure’s Offertory, listen by clicking below:

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