What began as an idea somewhere on the spectrum of “cute”, has become something much more meaningful to me. I needed to come up with the name for a group of singers that a colleague and I are taking to sing at two cathedrals in England next summer. Putting our names together – Carleen and Sonya – was the idea that kept coming back to me, and with my colleague’s permission, our little ensemble became The Carya Ensemble.
It seemed a good idea, though, to check that word out first with the source of all knowledge, Google. Carya, I learned, is a botanical genus which includes hickory and pecan trees. A particular characteristic of this genus is resiliency, and I liked the idea of aligning myself with a concept I admire so much in plants and people alike. I was surprised to learn that, though the word “resilient” dates back to the 17th century, it wasn’t used as a description for a desirable human characteristic until the 1970’s. There are words like grit and determination that were perhaps used before, but something more is implied with resiliency. It suggests, in ways the other words don’t, a molding of thought and actions to fit circumstances out of our control.
Where does a person’s ability to be resilient come from? In part, I believe, it is a skill we acquire when we have enough empathy to learn from all the small and big ways that the people around us show courage in their daily lives. It develops in those who have enough faith to believe that “all shall be well” and the patience to wait out the “long arc of moral justice.” Perhaps most important of all, resilience abounds in those who are able to remember with some frequency to practice gratitude.
Carya has become something of a mantra for me. I hear it in my mind’s ear and find comfort in the sound. I wish I could turn it into a greeting …or a blessing. “Carya,” I might say next time I see you. May you be resilient.
I chronicled my own journey on the road to resiliency in an article published in the November edition of The Journal of the Association of Anglican Musicians which you can read here: JAAM article