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Bach’s B Minor Mass and a swim in Lake Ontario

Big day in the news: Donald Trump has been indicted. Lock him up and throw away the key! And the Mass Casualty Commission report into the horrific mass shooting in Nova Scotia has been released. A dear friend was the editor. She, with two young colleagues, had only a few months to edit 3000 pages and barely moved for all that time. The story behind the story: the report is powerful because it says ground-breaking things about the flaws of the RCMP, but also because it has been beautifully edited and reads so well. Brava to all concerned.

The treat of the week: going to beautiful Koerner Hall to hear Bach’s B Minor Mass, a two-hour work that took the great man twenty-five years to complete and wasn’t performed until over a hundred years after his death. Sublime – the Mendelssohn Choir, over 70 voices with orchestra, and JSB’s exalted faith and genius elevating us all on a Tuesday evening in downtown Toronto. That moment when the choir, seated, rises, and you know those Glorias and Kyries and Hosannas are going to ring out, one transcendent musical moment after another. I floated home. 

Later, reporting on the concert on FB, I wrote, “It was like hearing the voice of god.” An acquaintance wrote to accuse me of disrespecting god by using the lower case. I responded that there are many gods, and most of them use lower case: the god Shiva, for example. If I’d written God, it would have clearly meant the Judeo-Christian god. I don’t believe in any of them, so lower case it is. But, I wrote to her, in these days of rage, how welcome to have a reasoned argument. 

Even before the music, Koerner Hall is such a lovely warm room. In which to hear the voice of god. 

Last night, with zero energy, I watched Groundhog Day for the first time, believe it or not. Of course I knew all about this famous film and don’t know why I’d never seen it. Mind you, there are lots of famous films I’ve not seen, including Titanic and Schindler’s List. Enjoyed it thoroughly; what an important message about learning humility and generosity and compassion. 

Sam called, to tell me his day’s adventure: every morning he takes Bandit to swim in Lake Ontario, but today, Bandit encountered some swans and went in hot pursuit. He swam further out, surrounded by angry swans and ignoring his dad’s calls from the beach, Sam had to strip to his boxers, dive in – it was minus something this morning! – and swim out to grab his dog and pull him back to shore. He said at one point he wasn’t sure he was going to make it, he was so cold. But he did, and at home, had a long hot shower, though during our talk he was still chilled. And Bandit is in a time out. From now on – a long leash during the swims.
I am going through the essay book manuscript again, honing, cutting, rearranging. I thought it was ready, but it’s not. A writer’s work is never done. C’est la vie. At least I’m not in Paris. Hooray! 

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2 Responses to “Bach’s B Minor Mass and a swim in Lake Ontario”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Bach is his own sacred voice, I think. (Not a Christian here but a life-long listener to Bach's music. Transcendent.) And a swim in Lake Ontario — oh, that's heroic. We swam in our lake in early March, a week after a snowfall, and it was icy. But quick and energizing, every cell alive.
    I always think that editing is a lesson in extreme patience but it does finish and then you see something you thought was good show itself as even better. I look forward to the book!
    Theresa

  2. beth says:

    I look forward to the book too! I think of it as like when people debate tearing down a building to start from scratch or renovating it, and they say renovating is more time-consuming and expensive. I took a bunch of mostly published essays and thought it would be easy to turn them into a book, and it turned out to be time-consuming and expensive. But it'll get there. I am not a fan of swimming pools in August, you can imagine my thoughts about a lake in March! Brave souls, you cold water swimmers. Cheers, Theresa.

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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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