On Friday, I attended a Passover Seder with good friends. Some around the table were Jewish, several were from Christian backgrounds, and a few were unaffiliated with any religion.
Today I attended an Easter brunch at the home of another dear friend. Around this table, once again, were people from many different faith backgrounds and observances.
In some places and times, this could be a recipe for disaster. But fortunately for us, these gatherings were convivial, interesting, educational, and joyful.
What I love most is that these diverse gatherings acknowledge and celebrate that we humans have much in common with one another. When we sit down together to talk, laugh, share stories, and learn, we are vividly reminded that no one has a monopoly on values like love, respect, kindness, self reflection and graciousness.
We can practice our beliefs wholeheartedly and authentically, while still respecting, learning about and admiring others who express our shared values in different ways and with different rituals.
I am frequently reminded of these transcendent values when I am programming Sunday Baroque. So much of the music of the baroque era was intended for liturgical purposes, and yet it transcends any particular belief system and becomes a universal language that can be embraced for its intrinsic beauty.
Many years ago a dear friend shared a wonderful story from his childhood. As a young Jewish boy approaching his Bar Mitzvah, he was asked by his mother for a wish list of gifts for his relatives to get him. He was a passionate music lover, and he compiled a long, detailed list of LPs he was eager to own.
At the top of his list of coveted Bar Mitzvah gifts was a recording of George Frideric Handel’s oratorio MESSIAH. And yes, dear reader, one of his beloved relatives gave him that special gift!
So at this time of the holiest of holidays, and a time of rejuvenation of the natural world as spring comes into full blossom, I wish you a light heart, and hope you find yourself surrounded by loving friends and family, new experiences, and great music.