Our dear friend was dying. It didn’t seem possible; her spirit seemed still so sweet and strong, but it was true. So, some weeks ago we stood together at the foot of her bed and gently sang Metta Sutta.
“May you dwell in the heart.
May you be free from suffering.
May you be free. May you be at peace.”
I knew I mustn’t think beyond the music if I was to make it through this special time with her. I concentrated on my tone as I sang those words. It was important that my voice not stand apart from the others as we chanted our lines together. I wanted to get the timing right, carry the higher line gently, memorize each compassionate word tied to its explicit note, blend so that our voices could create the illusion of one, carrying a single, loving message of unconditional grace and peace to someone so dear to us.
Metta Sutta, a kind of sermon or teaching on loving kindness found in Tibetan Buddhism, had been folded into song, and our fledgling Threshold Singers chose to sing it for one we had been carrying in our hearts. We hoped our music would somehow lighten her struggle and gentle the grief being carried by her family.
I believe my friend, her family and we who sang at her bedside, knew that the sacred words to this chant were meant as a hope for peace, as compassionate and unconditional love for one for whom we cared deeply.
At the same time, I believe these uplifting and durable words also serve as salve for all those tender and terrible wounds humankind shares. I think my brave and spirited friend would like that picture: chanting a gracious harmony of love and healing for the wider world. In fact, with a smile and a steady, clear voice, she would probably tell me that we all work toward our own healing every time we send unconditional loving kindness to any and all others with whom we share this planet.
Her journey here ended recently, and yesterday many of us said good bye, memorializing our extraordinary friend. We joined together: we listened, we wept, we smiled, we held each other and we sang.
So, for Janet, and your family . . . and to each of you -
May you dwell in the beauty of an open, accepting heart;
May you be freed from your suffering;
May you feel new healing pour over and through you;
May you know the grace of deep peace.
You are loved –