Yesterday, I realized that I had been somewhat silent during June…yes, I was quite busy this month but that doesn’t usually stop me from having something to say or something that I need to process by writing about it. A couple of days ago, while speaking with my spiritual director, I realized that, for a great deal of the month of June I had been experiencing something new — freedom, peace, and contentment. I have been, as the Psalmist might say, standing on the broad plain.
No, I have not been continuing my Mexican vacation, sitting on the beach with pina colada in my hand. In fact, I’ve been working harder than usual, between fill-in musical gigs, Pentecost, preparing for concerts in Spain in July and getting back to some important committee work for the church. But it is now clear to me that, for at least a little while, I have put some heavy burden down and I am experiencing a kind of peace perhaps unknown to me until now.
I will illustrate with a story, a story of an experience which still is mind blowing to me. For those of you who are not musicians, I will tell you that in the musical world of choruses big and small, there are people (such as myself), hired for their ability to “fill-in” when a chorus needs help of somekind…either people are missing, or there just aren’t enough people in a section, or whatever. When you are hired in this way, it is a called being a “ringer” — somewhat the musical equivalent of an office temporary worker. Sometimes these positions can be quite lucrative, but usually not. Recently I found myself with the opportunity to take a lucrative one.
The problem was two-fold: first, it was with one of the great big symphonic choruses in town (a chorus which, I’m pretty sure, would laugh if I came in to audition for it), and second, the job would require me to sing in the chorus and listen to another soloist sing my part for a musical work that is, my be all and end all dream of a life time to sing. I wasn’t sure that my ego could handle it.
To make a long story short, monetary gain won out over my ego concerns, and I launched into a week of rehearsals and performances. And as I stepped with those 140 souls onto the stage at the Meyerhoff Auditorium and looked out over the hall full of people, and the stage full of musicians, I realized — no matter what I think of my abilities and my experience, that I had never performed in anything of that high artistic level. Yes, I’ve performed at the Meyerhoff, but I was a student — even if I was sharing the stage with James Morris and Christine Brewer. And I have sung great operatic roles with big orchestras, but truthfully, always in a small town or a far away place, not with one of America’s great orchestras and great conductors.
And do you know what I felt when I realized that? I felt peace. I felt forgiveness. Funny? Yes, I thought so. But in that moment I was able to enjoy the experience, learn what was in front of me to learn (and I did learn things by listening to the soloist, about both my own voice and the work being performed.
When it was all over, not only did the check clear, but I found myself with a widened and clear vision — that’s what happens when you stand on the broad plain, I guess. So much more seems possible now…and the view is fantastic.