Diane King Vann, me and Jimmy Vann 

On Sunday, our music director Diane King Vann, gave me the most amazing birthday present of a seven minute musical production of the Finale from  Les Miserables. Several weeks before my birthday, Diane asked me to make a list  of my favorite songs of all time for the purpose of playing something I love during the offertory the Sunday before my birthday. I made a long list but started with my favorite,the Finale from Les Mis and especially the inspirational ending with, Do You Hear the People Sing? I also included  A Thousand Years  by Christina Perri and Any Dream Will Do from Joseph’s Amazing Technicolor  Dream  Coat, both of which she and the band played during the prelude. I also included an old standard from my parent’s era, “I’ll be Seeing You.”

Evidently people had been sworn to secrecy about it all. One of my practitioners, Kim Province was assigned to keep me away from the sanctuary while the young people were rehearsing. She did an admirable job. (I admit I can be an irresistible force when it comes to my plans on Sunday mornings.)

Diane engaged ten high school students and three college students to surprise me. They really did! It started with Michael Garamoni, one of our favorite singers, began with Jean Val Jean’s beautiful  prayer, Take Me Home. Then Kellianne Safarik singing the part of Fantine’s spirit, and Ellie Wyman, singing the part of Eponine’s spirit called him to heaven. Then the ten high school students rose from their seats and started singing the reprise of “Do You Hear the People Sing?” It was very moving in every way. The music and harmonies were exquisite, the songs poignant and the gift that Diane gave me was priceless.

Evidently she had rehearsed with these young people on her own, paid them for their performances and given them directions to our Center. This was an amazing gift of generosity and love.

The following day, she surprised me again, when she asked her husband, Jimmy , to play “I’ll Be Seeing You” on my old upright piano. He made it sound angelic. I know that the sounds that Jimmy got from my piano is his talent and I believe that my listening was love. 

Here is the thing I am learning: Spirit is unlimited. It is only limited by the restrictions we put on it. If I had chosen “favorite” songs that could easily be performed at the piano, I would have missed the exquisite experience of Sunday morning.Instead I told the truth and was greatly blessed. God can always make a way out of “no way!”