March finally departed like a lion just the way it came in. It roared for 31 days and we do not miss it. For me spring began in one single ethereal moment. I was in New York City participating in the Renaissance Society of America. On Saturday afternoon my wife and shook our weary heads at the rain, put up umbrellas and escaped into Central Park, leaving the bustle and jack hammers of Sixth Avenue behind. It wasn’t long before we met a familiar old friend in bronze, he of the great forehead whose 450th birthday is in this new month. We forged on the paths, dodging puddles and steadily increasing sheets of rain, when just north of the Bethesda fountain we heard the ethereal sound of ethereal singing coming through the mist from . . . somewhere. And at that moment it might as well have been heaven. Like many before us we descended the stairs and stumbled upon the source of the improbable and serene voices that were echoing from the underground pavilion north of the fountain: The Boyd Family Singers.
Not from heaven, but as close as one could get at that moment in wet shoes in Central Park.
In Conversatio we have been reading Joseph Pieper’s Only the Lover Sings. “Music,” he says, “opens a path into the realm of silence . . . it imitates the impulses of the soul.” It is one thing to read such words, and quite another to experience them in a surprising moment among familiar strangers in a cold rain on a day of reluctant spring when even Shakespeare in bronze seemed chilled.
Had you been there and heard them, had you seen the Boyd family in their jackets calmlyadn soulfully singing their praises to God in a near empty park, you would have understood how very right Pieper is: “Cest l’amour qui chante,” love alone knows how to sing.”