MOUNTAIN AREA — Poet Heinrich Heine said, “Where words leave off, music begins.” And this is also where Circle of Hearts comes in. Be it for sickness, while regaining wellness, or even on the threshold of death, a group of local women are opening their hearts and singing together for others, to provide love and comfort in transitional times.
The Circle of Hearts is a new chapter of the international group of Threshold Choir singers.
“Our goal is to bring ease and comfort to those at the thresholds of living and dying,” explains Judy Ball, Chapter Director. “Whether recovering from illness or surgery, in need of comforting secular songs, or at the threshold of leaving this earth, our gentle voices, simple songs, and sincere kindness can be soothing and reassuring to clients, family members, and caregivers alike.”
The Circle of Hearts chapter is fairly new, Judy continues. Some were members of another chapter in the area for about a year and a half but made the decision to form a new chapter earlier in 2017. Circle of Hearts is now the only chapter in the area.
“Now almost half of our group is comprised of new members who had expressed desire to be involved but the distance was a challenge. Others are just now learning about us and joining.”
Circle of Hearts will sing by request for those who may be in physical or emotional pain, recuperating from illness or surgery, or at the threshold of transitioning. There is never any charge for what Judy refers to as their “offering of audible kindness.”
“We sing in private homes, care centers, hospitals, and hospice settings among others. When we are invited to sing for an individual, we visit in groups of three or four singers. Our role is to comfort, not to provide therapy, spiritual support, or patient care.”
The group is a secular organization that sings for clients regardless of faith tradition.
“We are not performers or entertainers but do sometimes sing at events such as memorial services, special hospice annual events or other similar situations. We recently sang at the annual Hinds Hospice Lights of Love event in the Madera area.
“We currently have fourteen women officially enrolled in the international Threshold Choir and approximately four or five others who are either quite new to the group or simply enjoy singing the beautiful a cappella music we learn. The group is open to anyone who can carry a tune and hold their part if singing a harmony. The ability to read music or past choir experience is not essential.”
The Circle practices at The Studio in North Fork about 4–6 times each month, so travel can be a challenge. Members carpool, Judy says, and the group also considers other practice spots in order to “spread the travel love.”
Not all members choose to sing at bedside, but Judy says that’s one of the best parts of the work. Besides that, she says the best part from her perspective as music director is meeting and loving the women in the chapter give of their time, talent, and their huge hearts.
“As we sit in our circle and sing, we communicate with each other on levels that make our hearts feel like they are going to burst. We get the shivers! As we internalize the meaning in the music, we often weep tears of gratitude, love, respect, and trust for each other, the opportunity to sing together, and most importantly for those who are in need of our service of love.”
They work hard, Judy notes, and they laugh much as well.
“We learn and grow together as we continue to learn to listen and blend our voices to bring honor and respect at the bedsides of those we serve.”
Circle of Hearts practice is on the 2nd and 4th Sundays of each month from 1 – 3 p.m. at The Studio in North Fork and also offer “bonus” practices on Wednesday’s from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. at the same place.
New members are always welcome and can contact Judy Ball at 801-706-6538 or call the Circle of Hearts number at 1-559-580-5617 and leave a message there if you are interested in joining or have a singing request.
We can be found on Facebook at Circle of Hearts Threshold Choir.
You may find more information about the umbrella organization at thresholdchoir.org.