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“No sharps, no flats.” I whispered nervously to my mother who was gathering her hymnal and specs.

“You need to be weaned from C major,” she replied as she solemnly ticktocked her way up the pulpit.

I choked as I realized I was doomed, “I’ll throw the whole congregation off key!”

Mama in all her chorister wisdom ignored my plea. My 12-year old fingers struggled on the upright. I swore that if I died of embarrassment I would kill her after worship.

Subtly her eyeballs convulsed; vision shining encouragement my way. I saw sparks. Blood spurted up my temples. I did see a double bar line….

Then I was twenty-two.  With practice difficulties on a few scores that sent fingers whirling clumsily over the keys had become almost unnoticeable.  It was my turn to be decisive.  Chord after chord, observing dynamics after dynamics.

For it is… two flats, one on the bass the other darting up the G clef,  in giving! That we… receive!… It is in pard’ning… fingers executing four consecutive sharps in crescendo poco a poco… that we are pardoned… Mama’s soprano voice braced for fortissimo – it is in dying… I almost missed a single, quick natural sign but didn’t.   That we are born… I relaxed. The grand swelled, to eter. nal. life…!

The second bar line was finally a thick one. The congregation exhaled an amen. In that tropical church thousands of miles from Assissi, St Francis’s prayer shone through.

This post is linked with Sunday Scribbling.

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