Cherubs dance on the ceiling. Cupid’s cousins hang out on the chandelier. Angelic looking beings gaze upward as Himalayan chimes and Tchaikovsky-esque melodies harmonize. Is this Heaven? Not quite. The unstoppable tears are proof. Plus, my feet are solidly touching carpet in this Italian villa. The grand mansion overlooks the Peace Awareness Labyrinth & Gardens. A place where people stroll and swear they’ve found a spiritual oasis in the city.
“If your heart feels hard, tonight is a chance to soften it,” says Paul Kaye, the facilitator of A Valentine’s Evening of Music, Meditation and Sound. “Tonight, we’ll hear many instruments. But you are the most magnificent one of them all.”
I close my eyes. Dark thunder sounds reverberate. It’s as if ghosts are released into the room. Maybe it’s the mind haunting me with past sorrows. The phantoms are wide-awake, burning my heart. They fade though with the subsiding storm sounds. Soothing melodies step in. The room is steeped in stillness. The sacred song of spirit mesmerizes us all. Or so it seems.
Who are the wizards stirring the powerful forces of healing? Global Peace Song Award winner, pianist, Merrill Collins; Maksim Velichkin, a cellist, who has performed with everyone from James Levine (Music Director of the Met) to Bobby McFerrin (10-time Grammy Award winner) and clarinetist, Alethea Lamb, a frequent backup musician on the House of Blues stage.
The trio performs a sort of musical pas de deux. Each is important and intertwined. Nobody demands the spotlight or oversteps. (In ballet, the term pas de deux refers to partnering. The danseur gets to show off his muscles and strength. The prima ballerina is lifted skyward so she appears to float above the stage.)
When my eyelids fly open, I see Merrill at the piano creating sounds, which evoke Monet paintings and diamond raindrops. Maksim tenderly strokes the cello, pouring his heart into every string. Alethea is poised to play. She seems to wait for an inner conductor’s command. She hears the signal, blending in and bringing greater depth to the composition. When the musicians pause, meditation teacher, Paul Kaye brings in his array of instruments.
Gifting myself with time to heal, to touch into the center of my being is definitely better than diving into Valentine chocolates.