Monday, August 13, 2012

The Tour that Changed the World

Well maybe not the whole world.....  But for 22 days this past July a group of 64 students and 10 adults went on a magical choir tour of Portugal.

My wife and I were privileged enough to be pilgrims on this musical, cultural, historical and spiritual journey for 12 of those days.

The beauty of Portugal's coastline, rich culture and history was only matched by the beauty and transformational music of the the choir. 

After each performance - both the planned ones and the "flash mob" moments - the choir was able to transform the lives of a few random  and previously unknown people.  Ultimately, we may never know the effects that the music had on their lives, but I think the music of the choir has made the world a better place.

I am  reminded of the lady who owned the restaurant where we had a our traditional Fado dinner.  After dinner the choir sang in appreciation for the wonderful supper.  Following the song, the lady broke down in tears, telling our director how she has never felt so moved.

....or the Fado performer who told me that when the choir sang he "heard  the Holy Spirit speak to him"

.....or the young women who, while stumbling upon the choir  in Fatima, caught my attention as she just sat almost in a trance like state, mouth half open and tears flowing from her eyes.

As we toured I was reminded of Margret Mead's famous quote:

"Never underestimate what a group of small and dedicated group of people can do to change the world"

From event to event, as the choir broke out into song, I found myself turning my back on the choir and looking out at those who were transfixed by their music.  With each performance  I was moved and inspired by how the choir's gift of music  impacted so many people in different ways.

There were many high lights of the this trip.  Perhaps the most moving was the evening the choir sang in the home town where our choir director's mother was laid to rest nearly 30 years ago (she passed away a very young mom).

That night,  many of the town's residents came to see the choir "from Vancouver", directed by the son of one of their "beloved" - who died far too young. 

There was a serene,  "homecoming" feel to the evening.  The son who lost a mother far to soon, came to share the trans formative work he is doing through music.

The defining moment of the evening occurred when the choir sang "It take a whole village to raise a child"

As the students sang those very powerful words, I felt the love a small Portuguese village, proud relatives,and a fallen mother flow through a teacher and son and permeate our students.

As the song ended, the near 800 townspeople stood in unison with not a dry eye in the church.

I realized then that lives have been changed. 

Just like the famous butterfly effect asks:

"Can a butterfly flapping its wings in the Amazon cause a tsunami in Japan?"

Similarly I ask  myself:

Can a small group of students singing throughout Portugal  make the world a better place?

For hundreds (and maybe thousands) that heard the choir sing, I am convinced the world is a better place today than before they heard them.

We may never know what this transformation will look like or the when it will take hold but perhaps that is not for us to know......we just have to trust.  

I just felt fortunate to be there.

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