Praying with Puccini

About a month ago, I had to take Lukey to the doctor at 7 PM on a Monday night (suspected ear infection).  No parent loves bundling a fractious toddler into the car during what is normally his bedtime.   There are much better ways to spend an evening.

But as we trundled along the highway, I happened to put on the classical radio station (which I rarely do), and I heard the violinist Joshua Bell playing “O Mio Babbino Caro.”  It left me speechless.

I’m no great opera fan, but I like this song, largely because it reminds me of A Room With a View.  But I have to admit, I prefer it in a soft instrumental version like this than I do when a soprano belts out those high notes.   When I heard it for the first time in the car, the gorgeous purity of the music cut right through all the stress.  It  resurrected a sense of optimism that I was not exactly feeling that evening.

When I listen to this song now, as I often do, it’s a form of prayer.  That sounds corny, but it’s true: I clear my mind and let the notes sink in and I feel, suddenly, a sense of peace.   Yes, the world is full of things like illness and suffering and cruelty and injustice, but any world that can have this song in it is not all bad.   I guess that’s true of most great art  — it reminds us of the divine, of that gorgeous radiance that we sometimes can’t see any other way.

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