Reflections for Choral Evensong with King’s-Edgehill School Cadet Corpsadmin | 29 April 2012
Reflections 2012 – “Dance me to the end of love”
KES Cadet Corps Church Parade
Christ Church, April 27th, 3:00pm
“If music be the food of love, play on,” as Shakespeare puts it in Twelfth Night. There is “the sweet power of music,” he suggests, in The Merchant of Venice. Indeed, “the man that hath no music in himself/ Nor is not moved with concord of sweet sounds, is fit for treasons, strategems, and spoils … Let no such man be trusted. Mark the music.”
And it has been a year of music and dance, a dance that embraces the highs and the lows of every aspect of our year at King’s-Edgehill. It is, perhaps, in the music of the spheres and in the dance of the understanding that we have learned something more about ourselves, about one another and about our world. “Mark the music.” Enter the dance. Dance me to the end of love.
Leonard Cohen’s lyrical masterpiece, “Dance Me to the End of Love,” is about the triumph of love even in the midst of the greatest horrors such as the holocaust.
Dance me to your beauty with a burning violin
Dance me through the panic till I’m gathered safely in
Lift me like an olive branch and be my homeward dove
Dance Me To The End Of Love…
The song was inspired by the story of the death camps in the Holocaust when Jewish musicians were required to play classical music, the music of Mozart and Haydn, for instance, while their people were being led to their deaths and their bodies to the burning. It is a haunting image. A string quartet plays with passionate intensity for those whose fate is their own, playing with passionate intensity the music which belongs to human dignity and beauty in the face of unspeakable and utterly inhuman indignities and horror. The Jews of Europe were betrayed by the culture that betrayed itself. And yet, there is the haunting and compelling beauty of the refrain, Dance me to the end of love.
There is the dance of the year athletically. It is about poetry in motion: on the soccer fields; in cross-country running and cycling; on the volleyball court; in the sweat of the wrestling bouts; in the great dramas of the basketball court with buzzer beaters and the thrill of come-back moments; in the pursuit and chase of Biathlon with steady hand and steely eye; in the hockey arenas of courage and tenacity, of ‘never say die’; on the rugby pitch of honour and glory, bloody but unbowed; in Tae kwon do and badminton, in tennis and table tennis, and still yet to come, the heat and the challenge of Track and Field. A dance of athletic endeavour, a dance of agony and ecstasy. Dance me to the end of love.
We sang and we danced. It was “Grease”; we were slick and cool, real cool! It was “Into the Woods,” and whether we got lost or not, it was dance and music. And concerts of dance and music, too. Wicked good! There is the dance of the imagination in theatre and in Art. “This is a test,” as Janis showed us, and it always is and yet the dance goes on. Dance me to the end of love.
It was the year of Esther; in Chapel, that is to say. The Book of Esther is the story of a strong woman whose courage and wisdom saves her people from the first explicit mention, historically and scripturally, of the idea of the systematic annihilation of the Jewish people. The name, Esther, is derived from Ishtar, the Sumerian goddess of love and war. In the only book of the Jewish Scriptures that does not mention the name of God, Esther is the dancing queen who saves her people from a programme of destruction. Love in a time of war.
This, too, though is the year of another Esther and in another way. This year marks the 35th year of the teaching of Esther Mosher at King’s-Edgehill. Her love of history and her mastery of war makes her, indeed, our goddess of love and war. Her retirement this spring marks the end of a kind of dance, though one in which, because of her, we have learned to dance through the histories of human glory and misery. She has been our dancing queen. She shall be greatly, greatly missed. Dance me to the end of love.
We danced through the streets of Windsor, in the slow dance and rhythmic beat of the pipes and drums, in the ordered cadence of the Cadet Corps thanks to the marvelous accompaniment of the Black Watch Association Pipe and Drum Band from Montreal. Thank you for dancing with us. You rock! Dance me to the end of love.
There is the dance of the School in community projects and initiatives, from the Terry Fox Run to the Earth Day town clean-up and everything in between at Nursing Homes and Hospitals, in Food Bank drives and support for children in Africa. And at the Annual Pumpkin Parade and Race, in testimony to real perseverance and competitive zeal, our Headmaster, finally, and, at last, was wonderfully triumphant, the King of the Pumpkin Regatta! KES rules Lake Pisiquid! Bragging rights without equal. Unlike the Titanic, he didn’t sink!
So we didn’t have to sing, “Nearer my God to thee”. But wait a minute, we just did!
And, then, there were the twins! No, not us, but the boys born to Mr. Darcy Walsh and Lisa. KES welcomes Finn and Sawyer! The dance goes on. Dance me to the end of love.
There is, too, the dance of the understanding through debate and public speaking, through the Call to Remembrance Team and its victories and accomplishments, through the Science Fair and Mathletes in a multitude of math competitions. Dance me to the end of love.
There is the dance that never ends, the dance of the understanding in the pursuit of knowledge, life-long and never-ending. To be or not to be, IB is the question! A 14th century tutor at Oxford advised his students to “live as if you are going to die tomorrow, study as if you are to live for ever.” It is the dance that never ends. Dance me to the end of love.
“Arise up, my love, my fair one and come away.” The Song of Songs, from which Clara read, is the beautiful love poem of the Jewish Scriptures. It speaks wonderfully and poetically about rebirth and renewal, a rebirth and renewal through the power of love conveyed through music and dance. It speaks to our hopes and holy desires for renewal, for new beginnings. Dance me to the end of love.
The lesson which Fede read from St. Luke is part of the marvelous story of the Road to Emmaus. Jesus runs out after the disciples who are fleeing Jerusalem in fear and confusion to teach them the truth of his Resurrection. It changes them. Ideas have the power and the truth to change us but we have to feel them and to make them our own. It can only happen, as the story suggests, through a kind of dance of the understanding. Jesus opens the Scriptures and he opens their minds. It is by word and it is by action. He was known in the simple yet holy and profound action of the breaking of the bread. It changes them. They are, literally, turned around and return to Jerusalem, rejoicing with great joy. Dance me to the end of love.
Dance me to the end of love. Through the ups and downs, through the agony of defeat and loss, through the ecstasy of victory and triumph, the dance goes on, the dance of the understanding and the music of the soul. It is prayer, “a kind of tune which all things hear and fear.” We are being changed through what we have given to see and learn. It is the dance of the school, the dance of the love of learning and service, of challenge and commitment. The dance goes on. Dance me to the end of love, to be sure, but love never ends.
(Read by Janis McCulloch, Raven Cameron-LeBlanc, Emily MacMillan, Gabrielle Wiley, Erin McMillan, Christian and Zachary Lakes, Neil McQuarrie, Emma Dufour and Tobias Kamps)
(Rev’d) David Curry