I recently wrote about how a singing bowl came into my life. I’d wanted one for a while, but didn’t really know where to find one, and wanted to choose one “hands on.” I found the bowl (or rather, it found me) at the Summer NAMM show in Nashville in June.
The day I found the bowl was a Friday, and the next afternoon we were scheduled to play a concert featuring selections from Women at the Well at Grace Episcopal Church in Hopkinsville, Kentucky. We left the NAMM show at 6, ate supper and decided to do a quick practice. We use backing tracks for some songs and had recently decided to switch to using an iPad for tracks, and wanted to make sure everything went smoothly as technology has a tendency to invite gremlins and other “ghosts in the machine.”
One song (without tracks) is titled Our Father, Our Mother. It has sparse instrumentation, is a paraphrase of the Lord’s Prayer, and is…well, a chant. When I wrote it years ago, it came to me easily and suddenly. I love the song, and love singing it.
We moved quickly through the set, reviewing all songs with tracks first to ensure that the iPad would behave. So far, so good.
Then, I had an idea.
“Hold on a minute,” I told Bubba, and walked to where the bowl was sitting. I had just bought it that afternoon, and had been enjoying its tone in a more quiet environment. I picked up the bowl, struck it, and began singing.
Father, Mother, God, Creator, hallowed be thy name. Upon earth; thy will in heaven, be all things the same….
Bubba joined in on the keyboard. The bowl was the right pitch for the song. No wonder this bowl and I got along so well; I was tuned to it. I asked Bubba to keep the keys sparse, and we continued the song. To my delight, it worked…wow, did it work. What synchronicity!
The next day, we packed up the bowl along with our instruments and headed to Kentucky. It was an easy drive, a beautiful day, and a lovely church. Rev. Alice Nichols met us, and made us feel most welcome. I love older churches. Not only are they beautiful, one can feel the echos of generations of worship deep in the structure itself. We set up, and the sound of this handmade, prayer-filled bowl filled the church.
Even the iPad was still behaving! We relaxed and took in the sights of this lovely church, which included panels honoring church members who had fought in the First and Second World Wars. The needlepoint cushions at the communion rail were filled with rich symbolism, and the baptismal font told stories of generations of new lives.
The evening began with a Eucharist, and then it was time for the concert.
That was the moment that the iPad officially became an iPest. Or perhaps an iPain. The volume control, which had behaved perfectly during all run-throughs and tests, vanished. Well, not vanished, exactly, but the dreaded greyed out. It was visible, but infuriatingly nonfunctional.
It’s times like this that try the mettle of any musician. Happily, the congregation could all relate to techno-glitches, and when it comes to technology, we have triple-redundant backup readily available…so we switched to the CD player. (I figured that the iPad would find its wayward volume control by the end of the concert.)
In the meantime, it was the bowl’s debut. One strike, one tone, and I began to sing. I could feel the vibrations of bowl and voice. Later comments indicated that others felt the richness of the bowl in that song as well.
At the end of the concert, sure enough – the iPain worked. We all shared a good laugh, and then a lovely reception with fellowship and good food.
Grace has a beautiful labyrinth across from the church. Alice and I had originally discussed the idea of performing at the labyrinth, but it had been too hot (and humid) that day. After packing up instruments and gear, we took some time to walk over and enjoy it. I took a quick walk, breathing in the aftereffects of the concert’s energy.
The following day, we packed up and headed south, with a stop at Moony’s Market in Monteagle, Tennessee. We’d found this delightful health food store / gift and antique and herb / yarn shop on our April visit and performance in nearby Sewanee. Oh, the yarn! Oh, the food! I purchased a small African handbasket – which I later realized was the perfect size for transporting the bowl. More synchronicity, or at least my subconscious mind at work.
In addition to bringing me daily beauty and mindfulness, I think this bowl and I are meant to go places and make music together.