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Being stuck in the terrible maze of grief is hard, but when I finally find a path that leads closer to the light at the end of the puzzle, I tend to milk it for every ounce of happiness it’s worth. And I keep this pathway deeply engraved in my memory in case I must call upon my experiences there to help me through the times I hit obstacles and dead ends.
Today, the path led to spiritual growth and healing, away from the towering wall of hopelessness I hit about a week ago. It was the first week that our choir was back to singing at the 10:30 mass, and I had not realized how much hope I had pinned on the singing experience until it fulfilled my deepest wishes for the improvement of my current mental health. Not only did the music and liturgy stuff my head full of all the good bits of life, but I allowed myself to push out much of the dreary emotions which had attached themselves rather deeply to my heart as of late.
I do (unfortunately) constantly dwell on my rape when left to my own wandering thoughts, but I have to say that today’s homily has given me a different outlook, a rather relative, holistic view of my current situation: that although my tragedy is grotesque and horrid and unfathomable to many who have crossed paths with me on their own maze, every bitty detail is drastically relative to the world’s current problems. I look at Syria, and the Soviet Union, and even our very own people in America, and think “What the hell is wrong with humanity? And why aren’t those of us who are fortunate enough to have the luxury to worry putting these issues at the forefront of our minds? Can we not take five minutes out of our day to meditate on the inhuman and incomprehensible pain our brothers and sisters are facing over seas? Can we not turn to our neighbors and give them thirty seconds of our time? Can we not hug our family and friends close and be thankful we have them with us?” And then I realize how truly blessed I am in spite of the hardships with which I’ve been faced.
Picture this: A church crowd anxiously awaiting the start of the service, each (hopefully) getting into the mindset of worship and true stewardship. A music director who can barely stand the excitement of having her choir back in the loft, who never tires while trying to get through to us what music ministry is all about, who never gives up on a piece of music because her faith in us and in the Lord to carry us through the service is that profound. The choir itself, perched on the rows and in chairs, itching to bring back the wonderful choral experience to a church that has always been steadfastly dedicated to an authentic Catholic experience from the moment we walk into the church until the moment we leave, hopefully carrying a revised and enlightened attitude about the way in which we should lead our lives.
In that hour of meditation and utter holiness, it somehow (I suppose this is one of the great mysteries of the human faith in a higher power) does not matter that Catholic doctrine is not the standard by which I choose to live my life. Nor does it matter that I am ten years younger at least than every other soprano with whom I sing. Or how expensive my shoes look, or whether my hair is sticking up funny. What matters to me is the endless flowing energy pouring out into the air, running through a purifier of love and truth before it returns to all of us, re-igniting our dimmed passion for our Creator, re-energizing our tired minds, re-feuling our hope for and faith in humanity, and reminding us to love our neighbors as we desire to be loved. It is in that hour of letting go of past worries and pushing future problems out of the present time that I feel the most freed from the oppression of sadness and grief.
And as I sat there this morning, dwelling on the rather inconvenient commitment of having to sing at Catholic mass because I am indeed paid to lead the soprano section, I felt stuck in a rut of hymns and long rehearsals. And then I stopped myself, astonished that I would ever think it inconvenient to be paid for my voice, something I’ve worked for since I could sing. And I looked around at all the loving people who make up the best choir I’ve ever known. And I examined the beautiful walls and stained glass windows which surrounded me. And I remembered how it felt to sing Mozart’s Ave Verum. And I exhaled. Because if ever there were a place to be stuck, this would be my first, second, and third choice.
I do not think I will ever be able to precisely convey the connection I feel to music without it lacking every true bit of passion and gratitude I have for it, but I can say that with absolutely certainty music has been the one constant in my life, keeping me from falling further into pain, and helping me rise above even the happiest happy.
It might sound manic to say that when music is sung with a selfless attitude, a service provided by us for the congregation, I cannot help but cry with an overwhelming hope and love for all the wonder that makes up humanity, but it is as true as the grass is green. And today I felt it. And today I healed.