Singing us home

sunrisecropI recently attended the Solstice song circle of an unusual choir, whose  mission it is to sing the living into death. The community performance was an occasional event for the singers, who gather in small groups at hospice bedsides to offer a capella comfort and encouragement to the dying and the loved ones they are leaving behind.

The Pikes Peak Threshold Singers are a local offshoot of the Threshold Choir, founded in 2000 by a California woman who, some years earlier, sat at the bedside of a dying friend and did the only thing she could think to do: Sing. More than 80 threshold choirs in communities worldwide have since come into being. Their services are free and unaffiliated with any particular religious tradition.

As vocalists, they are musical lay practitioners of thanatology, the study of death and its surrounding circumstances; in Greek mythology, Thanatos is the twin brother of sleep (Hypnos) and the son of night (Nyx).

As human beings, these singers are paracletes, comforters who draw alongside those who are suffering and walk with them, reminding them they are not alone. They understand that we each in our turn struggle — not just with dying, but with living — and that, in traveling together, we ease our collective journey.


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