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Saturday, April 13, 2013

The Caged Bird Finally Sings

It's been years. Years upon years since I last sang.

Time takes a toll on the voice, and for so long, I was actually afraid to sing. Afraid that I'd go back to my "diva" attitude which was actually completely unintentional from the start.

But one day at Mass, the choir was so beautiful and I was so taken up into prayer by that beauty that I knew it was finally time to sing again. As if it were a direct message from God, that day at the end of Mass there was an announcement that they were looking for choir members.  My heart rose and crashed at the same time; I am not available, ever, for their regular practice time. I couldn't join the choir.

In hope, though, I approached the Music Director, introduced myself and explained that I wanted to sing, used to cantor long, long ago, and that I couldn't join the choir. Might she have a place for me?

Just then a friend of mine passed by and we greeted each other. She agreed immediately (never having ever heard me sing) that I could Cantor with her. I urged the MD to "audition" me, insisting I might not be good enough. I know full well I don't have the range I used to possess and I, like everyone else, loathe bad cantors who don't know when to step down.

In our culture of entitlement and "self-esteem", far too many people are doing things they simply don't have the gifts to actually carry out.

My first rehearsal with my friend went well and our voices blended well together. That weekend as we sang together, it was beautiful, if not perfect (on my part).  The sound guy approached us afterwards and said he couldn't tell us apart, and expressed that he hoped we'd often sing together for that Mass.

It was a good start, and I was happy.

Tonight I sang again. But this week's rehearsal in preparation didn't go well and I know well my voice is not up to par. Not yet. For all I know, maybe not ever. But the Music Director didn't seem concerned, and I remained grateful to be able to sing with someone else; a friend who is much better than I am!  I knew that I could back off if I couldn't hit the note. She could.

Unfortunately, we weren't able to rehearse together this week, so I let her take all the solo parts. Even though I practiced them, and in fact, because I practiced them, I realized I simply couldn't do it. She was gracious and offered me these solos, but I turned them down in good conscience, out of a desire that the liturgy be beautiful.

Back in High School when I cantored, I admit I reveled in being a soloist. I loved it! Especially considering that I hadn't learned until Jr. High sometime that I actually had a good voice. To put it to use was amazing! And to receive accolades, however informal, was more amazing still!

All of us grow up, though, and having been away from the Church, and from singing for a very long time, I now come back with a different attitude.

First, I don't have the voice I had then, so there is cause for very conscious humility. (And that is NOT an oxymoron!). Secondly, I now know quite well what the Mass is about and Whom is to be honored, and it ain't me!'s a privilege to be able to sing, to Cantor the Mass. To truly pray, in song, the Mass in leading the other worshippers in those prayers.

I've learned that time takes a toll on the voice, but it tempers the soul, and as imperfect as I am, it is good to know that perhaps I still have something to offer. Maybe it's not that pretty right now, and maybe it never will be. But it's something, it's adequate and thank God that He is giving me the chance once again to sing for Him.

Thank you, Jesus.