From Our Music Director, Emily Bengels

When I was a little girl my sisters and I spent Sundays at our grandparents’ house. Nana gave each of us piano lessons, and we baked rugelach and other treats with Papa. I could do no wrong in their eyes. If I made a mistake, Nana would simply say, “That was practice; now let’s try it for real!” Unlike many members of this fellowship, I am inept at cooking, but my Papa always let me use my wild energy to mix his concoctions. When it was time to leave, I would hide behind their couch, hoping to be “forgotten” and thus stuck at my grandparents’ house for the whole week. My seven-year-old dream was to be in that heaven of acceptance and creativity all day, all week, all the time.

Now, I think about those days and I realize what a gift my grandparents gave me. It is true; music and food are ephemeral. A song once sung dances past the atmosphere and we only hear it in our memories. I may have Papa’s recipe books, but there is no replicating his magically unmeasured ingredients. However, their home was my sanctuary, and the gifts they gave me were eternal. Anywhere I go, I make friends through song. Anywhere I go, I find a way to feel helpful, even if it is just mixing someone else’s ingredients. Anywhere I go, I feel I matter.

Isn’t this what our Fellowship is about? We may lend our metaphoric voices in different ways. As we sang last month: “All God’s Creatures Have a Place in the Choir.” I am amazed, delighted and impressed at the range of ways community happens at FUUFHC: flower arranging, pastoral care, RE, Sunday Services, communication, grounds, and so much more! We are our own community symphony, aiming to be safe, welcoming, and proactive about helping the world. Thank you for giving me back a little bit of what I treasured in my childhood. (Don’t worry; there aren’t any couches for me to hide behind!)

Back in September, a group of us went to East Brunswick for a workshop on Generational Theory. One of the topics that came up was how a community needs to extend across the generations. I thought about how much I cherish the mystery box and “A Time for All Ages,” and how beautiful it is when we sing the children out. However, after that workshop, I began to think about how we can sing the children IN. How can we use music–even clapping or drumming–to pull more of us together?

I was relieved that everyone joined in with the “Baa Baa Black Sheep” community participation part of the Bill Staines song; I have also been thrilled to learn about the various talents and interests of our Fellowship. Music can be for everyone. It doesn’t need to be every Thursday of the whole year. If you are interested in singing with the choir for one Sunday, we can let you know what the rehearsals are. If you are interested in chamber music or folk jamming or sharing your own work, let me know! If you are a child or a teen or a grown-up or a child-at-heart, you still have music in you.

For me, music transcends. It links people all over the world, all across the generations, all across the centuries. When I played the Beethoven Rondo on a September Sunday, it was the first time I played it since my Nana died. She was still there next to me when I shared it with you. (I wish she had turned the pages!) Who is next to you when you hear a song? For whom will you be that everlasting music connection? It may be the music of piano or of cookie dough, the music of a garden or the music of laughter. Know that this love may be ephemeral but it also endures. Thank you for sharing your heart music with me. Thank you for giving me back the feeling of home.

Emily