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Angels Unaware

I wept when I saw the movie about the life of Wilberforce when it gets to the point where he starts singing Amazing Grace, raw and simple, with a shaky voice. For a long time that was, for me, the best rendition of the song.

I have heard Amazing Grace sung by tens and tens of people. Some were great, some were less so. When I learned about how the song came to life, I cried. I have sung the song myself many times. It only touches me time and time again when it is sung simply, acapella. 

I wept when I saw the movie about the life of Wilberforce when it gets to the point where he starts singing Amazing Grace, raw and simple, with a shaky voice. For a long time that was, for me, the best rendition of the song.

Until tonight…

I have always respected Andrea Bocelli, professionally. I have admired his sober attitude and that very raw sound he has developed through his years of performing. That almost-to-the-edge-of-every-note that spices all of his appearances. That being said, I was never a real fan of him. Of course, I thought he had some excellent hits, especially his duets, but that was it.

All of a sudden, tonight, to celebrate the Resurrection, in front of more than 3 million people watching him online, he did it.All by himself, inside the Duomo di Milano, a Milano bleeding, a Milano that seems to be cursed these days, a Milano that has become a ghost city.

Twenty minutes into his recital, he stops. A few sad or angry statues come in the picture. And then a large panoramic of the empty Duomo, with Bocelli walking towards the exit, like some kind of musical christ, bearing on his shoulder the burden of millions of eyes and ears from around the world. Nobody dares to applaud. What is he doing? Is it over? 

The next image we see is the front of the Duomo, with him walking towards a lonely mic, close to the stairs. Nothing moves around. The air in Milano seems to be breathing to the rhythm of his well measured steps, then he stops and begins to sing.

That’s when the Resurrection happens:

Amazing Grace, How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost, but now am found
T’was blind but now I see

All the ghosts of all the never-reincarnated Wilberforces in all the histories of the world possessed Bocelli in that very moment. As I heard it in the movie, many years ago, now, on this Resurrection night, his voice elevated towards a clear sky in the most raw and simple rendition of the oldest song on earth – amazing grace, how sweet the sound

The sound that didn’t need any synthetic help to fly. It would simply hit the buildings and, escaping unto the empty streets, saved all the wretches in Milano.

As images of the deserted streets of le Tour d’Eiffel, Trafalgar Square and Times Square are intertwined through the video, stripped of their people, the message of “lost and found” sinks in. 

I am crying like a child.

I realize how much I miss the simple, raw expressions of humanity these days. I realize that there is no amazing grace bestowed on stone and metal; only on people. 

Yet I am sad because something inside me tells me that when all of this emptiness exhausts itself we might be going back to being the same aging ignoramuses who got ourselves here in the first place.

Will we learn our lessons? Will we finally return home, prodigals touched by such an amazing grace? One of the secret tools to restore ourselves could be just this – be sure to welcome strangers into your home. By doing this, some people have welcomed angels as guests, without even knowing it. I once was lost, you once were lost – we were all once lost, and somebody somehow somewhere welcomed us (into their) home. The craziest thing ever could be that you might be that angel entertained unaware! Though you looked upon yourself for all your life with disgrace and abuse. So when all this madness passes, start entertaining strangers stranded in your path, because you know how it is to be welcomed with grace.

Amazing Grace, How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost, but now am found
T’was blind but now I see

A man who lost his sight, a blind man, taught me tonight that I really see only when I move past the obvious and I join the masses of so many witnesses who once were lost and now they are made whole by the amazing grace – one Human welcoming other humans into humanity. For the first time after many years I understand what Resurrection is about.

2 replies on “Angels Unaware”

Thks for this, Liviu. And Tihomir for drawing my attention to this by his FB post. You’re right, I thought as Andrea walked out of the cathedral that his performance had ended…but ‘Amazing Grace’ outside was a superb finale. I too LOVE the Wilberforce film ‘Amazing Grace’, one of my all-time favourites…And we must remember how much of a struggle Wilberforce faced with the Church, vested business interests & so on…it lasted for decades. But he (with a small band of friends) changed the way the world ran itself at that time…so let’s learn from them!

very nicely said Liviu! It indeed is a time now to go ‘back to basics’, to reflect, to go back to the real basic of knowing God, of listening to Him. To be thankful for His amazing Grace, that saved and saves us all, and connects us together. big hug from a distance!

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