Most of the time when I drive into San Francisco to the VA Hospital, I take the "long" way – over the Richmond-San Rafael and then the Golden Gate Bridge – because it is so beautiful. Whether in fog, rain, or sun, this path across this bit of Earth is absolutely stunning. It's worth paying two tolls. It's also about 20 minutes faster than taking the Bay Bridge and then bushwhacking my way to the Pacific, and I'm usually late leaving home.
In early 2009, I started a chorus for residents of the VA's Community Living Center at Ft. Miley. The singers range in age from 60 to their mid-90s. Most are in wheelchairs. Twice a month we sing together songs we have known for a long time, performing about four times a year for other veterans and their families. We start each rehearsal with, "Oh, What A Beautiful Morning" and very quickly, if it wasn't already, it is a beautiful morning for just about everybody.
We’re preparing a 4th of July program right now – mostly patriotic songs, and “When I Fall in Love” and “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” These have never sounded so good to me. Robust, and full, heartfelt and true.
Singing certainly does a body good. It lowers our blood pressure, increases our lung capacity, relaxes and engages the mind, strengthens the connections among us. And, this CLC Chorus reminds other people that joy is possible. When we carol in the clinic lobby in December, people stop in their tracks, and tear up, and say “Thank you for singing for me. It is so beautiful.” The Chorus’ singing is as much a public service as it is good exercise, and they are so proud to be doing it.
Oh, what a beautiful morning! I've got a wonderful feeling everything's going our way.