I have several stories to share from my trip from St. Louis to Virginia, during which I spent most of my time with my extended family at the beach in North Carolina, but I have one quick tale to tell before July 4 is too far away.
I went to church with my parents on Sunday. It was a choice between that and playing with my niece and nephew for a few hours. I adore the kids, but in small doses. I chose church.
At a certain point, the violinist started playing “America, the Beautiful,” and something really special happened in several stages.
First, I started to hear people sing. The cantor hadn’t told anyone to start singing, and the choir was silent. People had simply heard the song and decided they needed to sing those words.
Second, the choir did start singing, as did everyone in the church. And it was beautiful. There’s so much misguided, aggressive, fundamentalist “patriotism” going around these days (in the US and elsewhere), but this felt right. It felt…pure.
For a few minutes, we put aside our differences and our divisions so we could just sing a song together.
And just to clarify, I’m not talking about the words of the song. I have no idea what the lyrics are. They could be really offensive for all I know (though I hope not!) It was the feel of the song, the togetherness of it.
Third, even though we finished the whole song, I had the strong sense that if the cantor had cut it short, people would have finished it anyway. It was that kind of moment.
It reminds me a little bit of the Icelandic Viking chant at the Euro Championship recently.
Did you experience a patriotic moment this weekend (if you’re in the US)?