I can’t believe it’s December already. Like so many other years, now that we are in the last month, time seems to be speeding up. My days are far different than they were before the pandemic. Grocery shopping is no longer an after-work errand. I now arrive at the store around 7:00 am to pick up my weekly staples. Whenever I need to go to the Post Office, I use the automatic kiosk rather than wait in line. When I drop my dog off for a play date, it’s now a curbside experience.
I haven’t gone to the movies since February. Seeing them on my small living room screen isn’t quite the same. I also used to spend Fridays going to my favorite café to read and enjoy herbed tea. That too is on hold. I try to order take out regularly from my favorite Sushi restaurant as they have been closed to dine-in service since late March.
I am sure that each of us has had to adjust to this new way of living. One thing that has happened that I truly enjoy is the Metropolitan Opera’s nightly streaming performances. The Met began airing free broadcasts in early April, presented with a variety of themes. This week’s theme is Stars in Signature Roles. Last evening, I was able to watch Leontyne Price in her final Met appearance as Aida, from 1985. In the third act, she sang one of the more famous arias from the opera. It is called Patria Mia and in it, Aida expresses how she is torn over her love for her homeland and for the man who conquered her people.
Ms. Price was able to convey Aida’s joy and sorrow beautifully. At the end of the aria she received a 3-minute ovation. She was clearly moved by the outpouring of love from the audience, and as the cheering continued, she lost her composure for a few moments. Ms. Price was doing what she loved, and unless you read the preview for the broadcast, there was no way to tell this was her last performance. She shared the love she had for the role and being a part of the Met family with all who attended that evening, and with anyone who is able to see the broadcast, over 30 years later.
I don’t know how many times Ms. Price sang Aida or that particular aria. I believe that each time she sang it, Ms. Price was able to convey Aida’s turmoil as beautifully as she did that evening. If I had to sum it up in one word, I would describe her work as dedication. I can’t imagine all the preparation that opera singers must do for each production. Most of the stories are tragic and emotionally draining, and rarely sung in English. And yet, each opera helps us cope with the valleys in our lives.
As the pandemic continues, we may find ourselves weary, struggling to live through this time that seems to go on and on. Each of us has been called by our Lord for such a time as this. Our role of servant leadership is also one of dedication. Those in our faith communities are looking to us to bring words of comfort, hope, joy, and peace as we continue on this journey. May we discover new ways to share the Good News of God’s everlasting covenant with us as we begin this very special Advent season. And Amen.