Category Archives: Transcending Boundaries

57–“Virtual Choir 4” from “Frazzle” and “Transcending Boundaries”

Door County in September by Margaret Dubay Mikus, Copyright 2013


Virtual Choir 4
Watching screen shots by Elisabeth

To be seen,
to be seen singing,

to allow
sounds to emerge

and release,
to take the step

driven to connect
or belong or create

a tiny piece of beauty,

To open heart
and mouth,

let energy go forth
meshing with others

in the same quest,

To strive and persist,
to learn and teach,

to wait for the outcome,

To join without boundaries,
to encourage, to support,

to accept grace and be

To demonstrate flight,
each a feather on a wing,

at least a little bit…

Margaret Dubay Mikus
Copyright 2013

From my books, Thrown Again into the Frazzle Machine, and Transcending Boundaries: Inspired by Eric Whitacre and Virtual Choir.

Listen here: (Video begins with an introduction and de-stressing, join in.)

I have been a singer all my life, usually in choirs (church, school, or community). When I first heard about Virtual Choir, created by composer/conductor, Eric Whitacre, I was determined to be part of it. Though I was not a particularly tech savvy person, and very shy as a singer in some ways, I still was moved by the music and the possibility of connection. When Virtual Choir 3 came along, I read all support comments on their Facebook page to see if I could manage it. I learned the music and practiced, putting together a recording setup in my office. I was so affected by all the encouragement from the support team (for other people), I overcame my “issues” and got my video in (alto 2). I was unable to find myself in the final film, but that did not diminish my joy in being part of it all.

When Virtual Choir 4 was announced, I was eager to do it. I donated to the Kickstarter campaign. I practiced to learn my part and upgraded my recording setup. In the final film I found myself right away, which was awesome. When Elisabeth, from Chicago, one of the support crew, decided to help singers find their videos by taking hundreds of screen shots, I watched all of them (no sound, just the faces) and was powerfully moved by all the people I was connected to, from all over the globe.

These videos have gotten millions of views on YouTube. Listen here to VC 3 and here to VC4.

This connection has blossomed into an online community, a Virtual Choir family, that supports each other in hard times and celebrates together in joyful times. When possible they meet in real life and may even sing together. I am blessed to be part of it. Thank you, Eric, and all.

For more poem videos in the series

THROWN AGAIN into the FRAZZLE MACHINE: Poems of Grace, Hope, and Healing










Transcending Boundaries: Inspired by Eric Whitacre and Virtual Choir

54–“Gorecki: Symphony of Sorrowful Songs” from “Transcending Boundaries”

Waterfire, Providence, RI by M D Mikus Copyright 2010


Gorecki: “Symphony of Sorrowful Songs”

Thanks for the link, Eric Whitacre

In the stillness
non-essentials fall away
light shines in darkness.

Life is re-built
from mostly re-used bricks
previously battered down.

And in the shadows
music builds for those
with patience to listen

to beauty becoming.
Those who trust long enough
to invest the time

who will breathe with
ascending notes, climb the mountain
be washed clean

come back down to life
transmuted water to wine
and back again.

to feeling.

The Phoenix rising
from everyday ash

And in the end
a shift in key
a point of light toward

the hoped for
healed reality.

Margaret Dubay Mikus
© 2012

From Transcending Boundaries: Inspired by Eric Whitacre and Virtual Choir

Listen to the poem here:

Henryk Gorecki was a modern composer (1933-2010) from Poland. His Symphony No. 3—which he called A Symphony of Sorrowful Songs—was composed in 1976 and received a lukewarm reception at the time. It was based on 3 laments, including writing by a teenager to her mother on a cell wall in Gestapo headquarters. Fifteen years later a recording with Dawn Upshaw as soloist became a classical phenomenon. This music is incredibly beautiful and moving, building slowly out of near silence. Patience is rewarded. Truly healing music.

Note: The correct English pronunciation of Gorecki should be “Goo-RET-skee.” I found this out while listening an NPR interview with the composer after I did the recording.

Crossing Michigan Ave., (near Chicago Symphony Center) by M D Mikus, Copyright 2008

For more poem videos in the series

Transcending Boundaries: Inspired by Eric Whitacre and Virtual Choir

Poems for Jenny Cooper

Chicago Botanic Garden Copyright 2016 MDMikus

Chicago Botanic Garden, Copyright 2016 MDMikus

A few years ago, I connected on Facebook with Jenny Cooper, another member of Eric Whitacre’s Virtual Choir. She had a breast cancer diagnosis and I sent her my book, As Easy as Breathing: Reclaiming Power for Healing and Transformation, to help if it could. (I wrote the book during my own cancer journey.) She was in her thirties with a loving husband, Chris, and two young sons. She became a vigorous online presence, healthcare advocate and educator, putting up vivid, honest videos of her ongoing journey. Jenny chose to life fully in every way. Despite aggressive treatment, her cancer returned and continued  to grow.

She went on hospice this summer and is now dying. I wrote these poems in the last few months in support and condolence, to help me as much as anyone. (My youngest sister was also dealing with stage 4 cancer, but is holding on at this point.) I stayed connected with both Jenny and her husband as she declined. I do not know why things happen as they do, but I do know that life has meaning. Jenny’s life touched so many and will continue to.


For Jenny Cooper
and Chris

In the mist
of dying
is the living

A hand to hold
is everything
a witness
to all of it

What is meaning
anyway, but
knowing you will be

One way you leave
other ways you stay
no way to not be

Your own personal
flavor of immortality
your peace-heart
expanding out to the sky

Margaret Dubay Mikus
© 2016



For Jenny—One of Our Virtual Choir Family

What did you think
the end would look like?
Not this pain and suffering
more medications not covering
more drugged sleeping.

The bubble you live in
becoming smaller and smaller
time with husband and boys shorter.

Yes, the bucket list accomplished
the daily online posts
that express and convince
connecting still to the outside.
But why is this?
And why you?
A mystery as all of it
unfolds relentlessly.

Margaret Dubay Mikus
© 2016



All the Days Are Numbered

Jenny and Chris Cooper

This is what dying looks like
on the good days
like living but sharper
like living but clearer
like living but deeper
the choices and chances more limited now

What is important cuts through the clutter
to take a pain-free breath
to savor a juicy peach
to hear your child’s laugh
to look in the eyes of, talk with,
hold the hand of your beloved

This is what the end looks like up close
at the edge of the unknown
all the love you have gathered to you
all the love you sent back out
This…noticing. This profound…awareness
of the part the path you walk alone…
and never alone, entirely still.

Margaret Dubay Mikus
© 2016

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