A few weeks ago I was part of a team of two who interviewed Sarita Stern, the well-known South African opera singer and teacher of opera singers at her book launch, in Cape Town.
I was there to help bring out for the audience the significant part that Christian faith had played and continues to play in her life, her deep sense of spirituality, her love of Jesus and through it, the way she has been able to embrace people of all faiths and all humanity.
In this blog article I will share some of the passages of various people of faith who had moved her at various moments in her life and helped to form her as a person and opera singer.
I would encourage you to read this book… I was so amazed in the first few chapters, and deeply emotionally touched that I had to read on – to find out more about this remarkable person and her journey.
It is the spiritual, emotional journey of a very gifted opera singer,
She moved forward from her humble beginnings against an enormous backwash… you find out…and the singer is so damaged… you will find out why…and overcomes…you find how.
Carl Jung once said that Song is the forgotten language of the Soul. Sarita believed that an inner voice guided her in her journey. Much later on in her journey she came to a realization:
Beautiful sound lifts the vibration of the universe and carries it right into the heart of God
Early in her book when she is writing about her family she tells us that many years later she came across the following prayer which touched her deeply. It was said to be found in a women’s concentration camp in Ravensbrück, perhaps hidden in a wall. It led her to understand the totality of God’s love and gave her a new perspective on her childhood and adolescence.
Prayer of Forgiveness¹
O Lord remember not only the men and women of good will
but those of ill will
but do not remember the suffering they have inflicted on us
remember the fruits we brought thanks to this suffering: Our
comradeship, our loyalty, our humility, the courage,
the generosity, the greatness of heart which has grown out of this
and when they come to judgement let all the fruits we have borne
be their forgiveness.
¹The Prayer of Forgiveness quoted in Richard Faster, Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home. HarperOne, 1992 New York.
What an amazing prayer! Surely an insight into the heart of God. I wonder if the woman who uttered this prayer could really have forgiven her persecutors and what they had done? Did she survive and was this a later reflection as she thought back? The nature of their evil was so great perhaps only God could forgive.
But she saw the amazing response of people to the suffering they endured, and to a greatness of the human heart as people cared for one another in a wonderful spirit of humanity.
She truly saw into the heart of God and called forth the best in herself.
After coming through a baptism of fire and singing the role of Carmen semi blinded and many other leading female leading roles on the South African stage, Sarita found her way to Vienna the capital city of all Opera.
Alone and determined to find her way in the opera world and to discover a teacher who could offer a methodology to achieve the high notes she could sing without her ever doubting herself, she found this prayer by Thomas Merton:
I have no idea where I am going,
I do not see the road ahead of me
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
Nor do I really know myself
And the fact that I think
I am following your will
Does not mean that I am actually doing so
But I believe
that the desire to please you
does in fact please you. And I hope that I have that desire
in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything
apart from that desire to please you. And I know that if I do this
you will lead me by the right road,
though I may know nothing about it. Therefore I will trust you always
though I may seem to be lost
and in the shadow of death,
I will not fear,
for you are ever with me,
and will never leave me
to make my journey alone.
Copies of the Book: The Inner Voice of Sound – a memoir – with Sally Argent can be reserved from Margie: weircairns@gmail. com 0722774493