I am pretty sure I sang flat for almost all of Mass today. There was a monitor issue, and one of my ears is a bit blocked, and (insert excuse here), but I wasn’t happy with what I was doing and not entirely sure that any ministry I may have been attempting was hitting its mark. This happens, of course. We try and we do our best but sometimes it’s just not successful. Sometimes my voice doesn’t do what I want it to. On days like this, there is one go-to remedy that almost always works. It’s not water or tea or cough drops, but a combination of a couple of things that seems to always do the trick.
The first is humility. I can get so twisted around when I’m working hard at something but not finding success. It’s hard to call it ‘pride’ when the effect is self-flagellation, but that’s what it is. In the case of any ministry, or any action I want to do in cooperation with God (which is ideally everything), I need to let Him drive the bus.
“Much more You, much less me.” That’s the prayer in my head every time I receive the Eucharist, and I do find that each time I make more space for God, He fills it and things somehow work way better than they did on my own power. The song I sing right after receiving the Eucharist is often the best I will sing all morning, and I believe that’s no accident. In those moments, God is singing through me. I know that sounds crazy, but I feel it, for real. It sometimes makes me cry.
The second is community. As I watch the precious members of my church family walk up the aisle for communion, I see the faces of people who are suffering, struggling, thriving, hoping, enduring, and helping. They are the Face and Hands of God for me, and they make me weep sometimes with how much love and faith they bring to church and to the world. They remind me that anything I contribute by my singing is one small stroke of paint in what is a much larger, beautiful painting, and that fact makes me worry less and the music somehow improve.
God > me. It’s a simple equation but it’s one I forget sometimes. We are capable of so much. We have talents and blessings and insights and we help and touch those in need, but the times when it really works…when anything we do connects and feels like hitting a baseball in the sweet spot of a bat… that’s God-in-us working. That’s a humbling thought and it’s a privilege and kind of mysterious, really. But what a relief.
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