A few weeks ago, on a particularly gloomy and frigid Monday afternoon, Sarah and I began writing words on a blank page we had posted on the wall at Petit-Château. Our “wall” is really two large wooden doors, but we have found that the packaging tape we use attaches far better onto the door than the surrounding brick.
Our first word was a propo the weather.
The second came from a resident from Iran.
From there, an exercise of play on words.
Pas de porte
Come through the door
Eventually, we decided to retire to the heated refuge of the coffee shop across the canal from the center. There, with hot drinks, we defrosted and continued working on a welcome poem. We found double entendre in familiar words like passport and welcome in several languages. We wrote out many thoughts on the state of migration, the value of each life, the metaphor of doors, walls, and borders.
I typed up our words into a document and emailed it to Sarah. She continued work and brought a printed copy this past Monday. A woman named Rgat from Eritrea joined us as we worked on the song and began to devise a melody. We sang together. We spoke about the meaning of the words. Rgat wrote welcome in Tigrinya.
The song is still in process. Sarah sent a revised copy to me via email, and I sent back a couple of revisions. I have sung the melody and verses via a live video and during Savasana at the end of a yoga class I taught this past Friday. It feels like it has promise. It feels good to sing.
I am not sure if the repeating verses become too repetitive and I should add a bridge to break up the monotony or if simple is best. Keeping the melody and structure of the song simple and repetitive makes it easy for people to quickly join in. It also makes the song less intimidating for those wishing to sing along for whom English is not their first language.
I am as yet undecided. I do wish to sing a warm welcome to all those arriving in Belgium with their hearts heavy, missing family, feeling lost, hopeful, sad, and emotions for which there are no words.
From the bottom of my heart, welcome.