Sunday, December 09, 2007

She Cries

Ok, so perhaps I shouldn't have said anything. Friday and Saturday morning, the Kiddo crawled into bed with me (like he does every morning), curled up all close and snugly and dozed for 30-45 minutes. I rolled over and looked into his sweet little face, all flush with sleep, and he says to me...

"Mommy, I wet."

uh huh.

So, I guess the novelty wore off sooner than expected. I can say though, that after lots of questions like "You know if you need to go tee-tee in the middle of the night you should get up, right?" and statements such as "If you need to go potty, you go, ok?. We don't want to wake up wet. Mommy is so proud of you when you wake up and are dry." He did actually wake up dry this morning. I am very proud. :)


So this morning we made it official. After attending the class and signing all the papers, giving blood and dna samples (ok, I'm kidding about the last two) we are officially members of our church. We were introduced en mass to the second service congregation today and then had to endure the torture that is two very anti social people being placed in a receiving line of sorts so that total strangers can come shake our hands. In all, over 100 people officially joined the church; that is really something to give praise for. It was interesting to see all the different people, young, old, married, single, of all races and backgrounds finding a home in our church.

And I do love that church.

And I really love the music there. I have never been much of a "praise music" person either. I mean, my greatest church music influence was in college. And when you attend the First Baptist Church of most towns you don't get to hear a whole lot of contemporary stuff; especially when the church music director is also the associate chair of the music department at the local university. So for 8 years I was influenced by the old Hymnal tunes, classical pieces and very "old school", traditional teachings. I was surrounded by church music snobs. There just has to be an organ and there has to be a full fledged choir and there can't be rhythm instruments.... well, it wasn't quite that bad, but there were some in the church that thought that way. I remember once one of the choir member's sons wanted to sing a song during a service and play an acoustic guitar. Oh the horror!! The elders all got their undies in a bunch - but they let him perform anyway (at the Sunday evening service) and it was wonderful. And being a classically trained singer with a music degree, the simplicity of most praise music was lost on my overly trained ears. Back then though, I couldn't see past my education to how much praise music reaches people - all kinds of people; and just how powerful that really is. As the years have gone by my heart has been softened to it so much.

The music at our church though is, in my opinion better than just common praise music. The musicians (vocal and instrumental) are truly gifted and most of the music performed is much more complicated than what I had been exposed to after college. It has harmonies and interesting chord progressions and lots and lots of rhythmic variations that interest my inner "music snob". And I love to learn the songs and sing along. Sometimes I make up my own harmonies and I try to envision what it would be like to be able to stand up there and sing. Only a select few get to perform on a regular basis. Rightly so as they are so very talented.

The thing about singing in a church choir all those years is that I was so very involved in Christian music that it really didn't affect me when I sang it. I mean, I got the message and felt the emotion, but it didn't interfere with my vocal ability. I sang all the time - all day at school, after class rehearsals, in between classes for fun, practicing at night, church rehearsals on Wednesday nights and the service on Sunday mornings. Between that and the concerts and just attending music functions all. the. time. it was difficult to really move me; to bring me to tears and break that emotional wall I had built because I was so used to being moved. Does that make sense? I was numb to it really. In a way it was good - it allowed me to perform at a higher level than if I were trying to sing through tears.

But these days the rehearsals and performances have been replaced with "real jobs" and child rearing and I just don't get to sing very often at all. And when I do, it's usually secular music in the car; most of it devoid of emotion and power. Most of it is boiled down to the most basic of marketing appeal and fluff. It is only on the rarest of occasions that music moves me, and usually God has to have a big hand in it.

But when I am in church, oh the music moves me.

It moves me to the point of tears, without fail, every week. The frustration I feel when I can't stop them from coming and the embarrassment of not being able to hit the notes with power and grace overwhelms me. And it makes me want to sing even more.

I must look like a total fool - standing there contorting my face to keep the tears confined within the rims of my eyes; trying to choke back the overflow of whatever it is that is exorcised from me each week. And I think that if I power through it each week, and let my soul be cleansed, eventually I will be able to make it through.

But it isn't getting any easier.

And I don't understand that.

Back in college, the only time I ever got really choked up was maybe at Christmas time. Some years I had a hard time making it through O Holy Night - especially if the choir was particularly good that year. Then sometimes on a rare performance occasion that was truly divine. When the choir made magic. When we performed in a way that we weren't really present; but rather hovering above, watching the performance as if only part of the audience; when the voices took over and the minds were somewhere else entirely. And only then we would choke up afterwards, but not during the actual singing.

I long for an opportunity to perform again. It doesn't have to be grand. It doesn't have to be prestigious or even truly meaningful or high brow or any of that. I just want to sing. I want to be enveloped in music for more than just the 20 minutes it takes to drive to the grocery store. The music at church makes me want to be up on that stage with those chosen few, singing the harmonies I know how to sing and leading the upper registers in a clear voice. But I know right now I could not do it. I can't even make it through one song. No way could I smile and "perform" and raise my hands up to God in praise. I would be too distracted by emotion and all this weirdness that pours fourth from me when I try to do the one thing I've been doing all my life. Why is it so much harder now??

I had thought it was just rusty-ness; not being in it all enough. But that's not it.

When Hubby and I lived in Phoenix, I worked nights and weekends at a wonderful upscale restaurant in Scottsdale. On Friday and Saturday nights I worked as a cocktail waitress in the bar upstairs. And on those nights we had live music. I've mentioned David recently. He is a fantastic musician and a wonderful soul and he is also extremely generous. He would let me sing with him whenever I wanted to, and I did quite often. When it was slow, he and I would practice and then once the patrons filled the bar I would sing a song or two in between slinging drinks.

I loved every. single. minute.

THAT is how I always envisioned my singing career. Sitting on a stool next to a guy on acoustic guitar singing ballads and slow jazz and all my favorite songs. And even though there had been some time between my school music career and singing with David, I never got choked up. It was easy and natural and real and I loved it. Sure, I was nervous. And some nights it was all I could do to sing to an empty room - but I never experienced the emotional car wreck that happens to me each Sunday in church.

What is that?!?

I wish I knew. And I wish I could get over it already and enjoy singing again.

D :)


kimberly said...

Ok Ok, got any music online? Or can you upload some sample of you singing??? I gotta hear you sing.

Jill said...

Did you know I was anti-social on occasion as well? So much so that when I joined my church several months back I didn't even attend the meet and greet part of the joining! But a great church is a great thing in life. I love mine and hope you will find a comfy spot in yours too! Oh and I do the tearing up thing listening to music at church too. And it's absolutely worse when your 4 year old joins the "wee" choir and is up there singing..let the river flow! ;-) And I want to hear you sing too!

Jen said...

Oh Dawn, I'm right there with you...except that I am not a trained pro like you! But I get gushy just about every time I'm in church, and singing praise. I love it. My heart wishes I could be part of leading people to worship but I don't think the skill is there. So for now, I just enjoy it...and thank God for the tears. It's moving when you honor God for all He's can't help but cry =)

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