Saint Anthony of Padua


I am mostly an atheist. But that doesn’t mean I’m not superstitious.



The other morning I lost my phone. I knew it was somewhere, but still I couldn’t find it. (For more information on this topic, see my recent piece on “the aging brain.”)



I had great faith, however, that my phone would be found. No one would have stolen it. Also, I’m very good at losing things that get found again.



So I took a walk at lunchtime, as I usually do, serene in the certainty that my phone would be found by the time I got back to the office.



And, just to make sure, I said the sure-fire St. Anthony prayer / invocation:

Something’s lost that can’t be found;

Please, Saint Anthony, look around!



And I came back to the office, and no one had found my phone.



But I found it myself, within a minute or so,



Saint Anthony was a Portuguese who became a Franciscan. He was often sickly, but wanted to be a preacher, and even set out to proselytize in Morocco once (although he didn’t make it there). Legend has it that he came to a church to preach, but found it empty; to shame his congregants, he went to the oceanside and preached to the fish, who rose to the surface and listened to him (although they fell into their old evil ways later).



Here is Janet Baker singing Gustav Mahler’s song on the subject:




I am a sentimental old fool


I think most of my friends and coworkers (and family too) think I’m pretty chilly.  I can be very snide.  I am unmoved by most sob stories.  Disasters make me shrug.



But small silly things make me tear up.



One of my coworkers has lots of her kid’s drawings pinned up on her office wall.  I noticed one with a big bright drawing that said, in crayon, at the bottom: LADYBUGS ARE PRETTY LIKE YOU, MAMMA.



I teared up.



Other waterworks moments:



        The (protracted) ending of “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” as the huge bright alien ship descends.  I saw in at the end of my first trip abroad, in a theater in Copenhagen, and I was probably homesick, and I cried like a baby.

        The children’s story “The Cat Who Went To Heaven,” by Elizabeth Coatsworth.  Every time I describe the story to someone, I choke up.  I can’t even reread it now, because I’m afraid I’ll start bawling.

        The ending of the movie version of “Slaughterhouse-Five.”  Valerie Perrine is giving birth to Michael Sacks’s baby on an alien planet, and fireworks are going off, and the (invisible aliens) are cheering, and the soundtrack is Glenn Gould playing Bach.  It gets me every time.

        (This one is unbearably highbrow:) The entry of the chorus, ppp, in the finale of Mahler’s “Resurrection” SymphonyAlso the whole twenty-minute first movement of Mahler’s Ninth Symphony; I can’t even listen to it anymore, it breaks me up too much.



So I am human, perhaps, after all.



(One afterword: I told my coworker how moved I was by her kid’s drawing of the ladybug.  She guffawed. “Oh, that’s a good one,” she said.  “He drew that because he wanted to butter me up to ask for something.”)



Apollonia is right.  I’m a chump.


Sunday blog: Mahler’s “Urlicht,” sung by Maureen Forrester, conducted by Glenn Gould


 I recently found this clip on YouTube.  It’s lovely: Maureen Forrester, one of the great contraltos of the 20th century, singing one of the great contralto arias – the “Urlicht” movement from Mahler’s Second Symphony – accompanied by an orchestra conducted by Glenn Gould.



An acquaintance had the nerve to mock me for liking this on YouTube.  What do you like about this? he said.  Mahler?  Forrester?  The schmaltzy conducting of Glenn Gould? 



All three, actually, I said.



Mahler is all about feeling.  Everyone involved in this performance is heavily into feeling.


And sometimes feeling is what it’s all about.



So huh.





Easter blog: Mahler’s Resurrection Symphony


For Easter: the last few minutes of the final movement of Gustav Mahler’s Second (“Resurrection”) Symphony.  I don’t know this conductor, or this orchestra, or these soloists, but they’re really pretty good.



I don’t listen to Mahler much anymore; honestly, he hurts my heart too much. But when I listened to this, it was like hearing it for the first time.



Even if you think you don’t like classical music, give this eight minutes of your time. It is amazing.



“You will rise again, my heart.”


I hope it’s true.  It would be lovely.



Happy Easter, y’all.









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