That’s what I kept telling myself as I crawled onto the bench of the tiny electric organ in the chapel at Thomas House a week ago Wednesday. Not a digital piano with an organ setting, but a real, live (well, mostly live) organ with pedals and stops and everything. I was about to “stretch” myself and my musical skills, by playing an instrument for which I have no training, accompanying myself as I sang. I was participating in my church’s mission week series, EchoDC.
So, I haven’t played any instrument in public for over 20 years, except my voice, and I have probably never played and sang together where anyone but my dog could hear the result (and she is not always complimentary!).
So there I sat, playing and singing, “Balm in Gilead” and “Trust and Obey”, desperately trying not to be distracted by just how out of tune that organ was, and despite my initial terror and the fact that I hadn’t been able to sleep all night from the anxiety, I had one of the great moments of my life. Maybe it wasn’t the greatest “performance’, but the fifteen members of that audience didn’t care — they only cared that someone took a Wednesday morning to come and worship with them. And I would say, that, for me, it was more satisfying than singing Aida with full orchestra and chorus in a big opera house (which, I have also done).
Why? Because, well, it wasn’t about me. Nor was it about co-dependantly trying to live up to someone else’s expectations for me. It was about community, comfort, service. And it is moments like that Wednesday that I finally feel in alignment, like all of the pieces of my personality and talents are finally working together, that I am finally doing what I am supposed to do.
And so, who really cares that the critics weren’t there, or that I didn’t get killed by the tenor or throw the baby into the fire (okay, for you non-opera nuts, these are references to Carmen and Il Trovatore), because when this fat lady sang, a wonderful older woman named Esther Jubilee smiled and clasped my hand and told me how wondeful it was.
That my dears, is what makes life good.