You’ve probably never heard of the Threshold Choir, a worldwide group that brings comfort to the dying by singing them across life’s last threshold. It started in the Bay area, Marin County and the East Bay, and now there are more than 150 chapters across the US and in many other countries. These (mostly) women use their talents to be of loving service to the dying.
They make no public appearances. They simply sing to hospice patients. Once a year they sing at compline at Stanford Chapel and we were lucky enough to be there last night for the one time. Dumb luck.
“It’s the most beautiful singing I’ve ever heard,” my husband said to me afterwards. “Like angels.”
We gathered in Stanford’s beautiful chapel and saw the choir seated in the last few rows. Maybe 75 of them. Maybe more. They said nothing. At 8:45pm they began singing and sang for 45 minutes. The audience sat quietly and listened to these angelic voices. There was no reason to speak.
You are not alone
I am here now
We are not alone
We are here together
and this, captured on audio
Go in peace, go in love.
Spread your angel wings and fly
Go in peace, go in love. You are one with all.
I can’t begin to express how moving the entire compline was.
The founder was quoted in an interview as saying that the harmonies are what creates the visceral experience of the music and that raises the vibration in the room.
The capper, the most beautiful part, took us by surprise. They ended compline by singing a chant: Ram Dass’ famous “We are all just walking each other home.” When I heard it, I thought it was the end, but there was one more surprise. (I apologize for the background noise, some of it’s me flipping the program.) Here’s what we heard:
And after a minute or two of this chant, they began to file out of the chapel singing it. The chapel was so quiet you could hear a pin drop. As they left, we could hear them still singing the chant outside and as we exited, we saw they had formed two lines on either side of the exit outdoor walkway. We filed out in between the lines while they sang us out the chapel with “We are all just walking each other home.” It was a beautiful, moving surprise. At that point, all three of us lost it.
Although it doesn’t come across with the same emotion we felt, I tried to capture the last minute on video HERE.
When people find ways to use their talents to be of loving service to others they remind us that we, too, have opportunities every day to serve others with our own talents. And the Threshold Choir reminds me that we do not serve alone. No, not even in these brutal times.
So be it.