I had a sudden memory this morning.
Four months ago, when I still hoped I might be able to find a place I belonged in my old church, I visited Saturday night mass at the Catholic church down the road.
(That might sound contradictory, but work with me here.)
During the years I was depressed and my mind burdened by more than it could carry, I found tremendous relief in attending midweek mass. The church was 10 minutes down the road (a big deal now that I lived outside of town), and the priest has a heavy, heavy accent.
He grew up in India, investigated “all the faiths” and chose Catholicism. He met Mother Theresa. Doesn’t eat food that isn’t fresh and says that’s why he’s never been sick in the seven years since he came to Alaska.
Very interesting man. Wonderful smile.
We did St. Raphael’s VBS a few years back, and I got to learn the meaning of a parish. The idea of people worshiping together that also live near one another.
After the last day one of our new friends invited us to join them at a local park, and they got to talking about the “new” priest, and how hard is was to understand him sometimes. I don’t know if I realized at first I was defending him, but I shared that one of my favorite aspects of visiting the church was feeling of foreignness.
That is, I imagined what it must have been like for new believers to try and understand a non-native speaker communicate a comforting but unfamiliar ritual. It all held great significance to me.
I can’t explain the warmth I felt when the other mother said, “Wow. That actually makes me like him more.”
~ ~ ~
Feeling a great deal of turmoil this spring, feeling isolated, I remembered the community and comfort St. Raphael’s had offered in the past, so I slipped into Saturday Evening Mass and soaked.
The second week I attended (the memory that struck me and made me want to tell this story), one of the women Cantors (song leaders) was an older soprano. And she had my voice.
That is, I recognized the way she sang.
There are different qualities and sounds of Soprano. I have my likes and dislikes, and my voice can be in either of those categories depending on the work I want it to do. But she was a mirror. For the first time, maybe ever, I got to hear what I sounded like, not from a speaker, a recording or in my own head, but eight feet from the instrument itself.
Twice I nearly cried.
Now I know what people mean when they say I can sing.
I am not perfect, but I’m good, especially in the range and type of music suited to the voice. I have a good instrument, and if I’m not thoughtful in the way I use it, I can tear myself down.
And this makes me think so much about the rest of me. My gifts, my inclinations, my duties and delights.
~ ~ ~
I once was in a really foul mood, and verbally attacking myself (speaking the truth, I called it then). God somehow got my attention and gently asked if I would speak to my dear friend Jana that way.
Instantly my mind replayed all the abuse, and my imagination showed me pouring it over this gentle-spirited, loving individual. I sobbed, horrified that I might be capable of such a thing, how I’d never want to hurt someone like that.
It was as if God was asking, How are you different from her? Why treat one of my daughters this way?
I heard my voice in a new way.
And I made a change.