Commissioned by The Shrine of The Ages Choir of Northern Arizona University, Dr. Edith Copley, conductor.
At the first light,
at our first breath,
soft hands find us,
catch and hold us.
All our lives,
when our wounds are washed,
when darkness grows
over our days,
touch makes us rise.
At the last light,
this journey done,
place your hand in mine,
here is mine in yours.
All I ask is this
touch of love.
In manus tuas commendo spiritum meum
Into your hands I commend my spirit.
From poet, Brian Newhouse.
"Last year, my church undertook an audacious task: getting as many of our members as possible to fill out End of Life Directives, aka A Living Will. That had a practical benefit, as just about everyone knows they should have one on file in case of accident or a disabling medical condition, and you can't direct your care; yet, nobody ever really wants to do it or gets around to it. So through the course of a handful of small-group sessions, we met and discussed the medical issues and options and how much treatment we would want in various medical scenarios.
Not the most pleasant topic, right?
But this led organically into much deeper and richer conversations that the church also facilitated: at the end of your life, what is of utmost value to you? Not just the practical medical considerations, but spiritually, what is absolutely crucial that you want your loved ones to know in your final days or hours?
I want gorgeous music around me as I leave -- that wasn't a surprise for me to declare. But as I considered this 'last wish,' I was surprised to learn that what I want more than anything is to hold my wife's hand. I want my daughters' hand on mine. It is very much about hands, about the need for human touch."
Brian and I are currently working together to adapt each of the seven movements of "The Seven Last Words of Christ." Each movement is aimed a marriage of the sacred and secular. Similarly to, "Your Hand in Mine", the intent of the collaboration is to produce seven meditations on the Last Words. As someone who beliefs there is value in religious writing beyond traditional liturgy and religious practices, I intend to express the humanity in these sentiments as they are expressed in Christianity. Watch for updates regarding this work as Brian and I will continue to work towards a complete set of pieces for unaccompanied choir.