Most people probably said their official good-bye to summer a while ago, and you think that I might have done so since I started school back at the beginning of August. However, despite 4 hours a day learning Biblical Hebrew, I managed to feel that summer continued and I did have one last blast of summer fun last week in Florida.
For me, the real beginning of fall was this week — the first official week of my seminary education at the Virginia Theological Seminary and today, the “official” beginning of the church season. Today is the day we move back into the sanctuary — the choir robes come out, the organ plays, we process and everyone stands back on the platform.
I took the occasion of this summer to do something quite unusual — I took the summer off (for the most part) from my musical life. I turned down offers to travel and sing, I never once planned a program or opened a score.
Instead, I devoted my time to experiencing travel for pleasure, cleaning and re-organizing my surroundings and just letting myself “be”. I knew that the time ahead for me would be a time of change and I just wanted to make as much space as possible for those changes to come peacefully and with grace.
This was a decision that it took me a while to make. Well into the month of June, I still was not certain that it would be okay to put down the siren of music for a while. What if I couldn’t pick it up again? What if I didn’t want to pick it up again? What if (and this is the classic performers fear) no one cared that I had put it down? What if there was no work to be had anywhere after a few months without striving, without fretting, without planning? What if no one wanted to hear me sing ever again? And, what if I forgot my hard-won skills? What if…what if…what if…
And do you know what really happened? Time off, rest, and the beginning of something new helped me to put music in a better place in my life. Music is and always will be a vital form of expression for me; it is the voice of God in my heart and soul in so many ways. But it is not my life, and in fact, my need to put it first and foremost in many ways stopped me from having the kind of life I craved. I realized that my desire for an all-encompassing musical existence actually kept me from leading an adult life, a life that realized all that I was and all that I could be and all that I have to express.
And now, as the opportunities to perform come drifting in (and gratefully, they have), I really feel that I have more to offer than I ever had before. I feel fully engaged, even though I am busier and have much less time to devote to the musical arts. I feel more fully alive, and therefore have a greater voice to bring forth in worship. And I have other ways to speak and communicate and other gifts to offer.
So, friends, that is what I did with my summer months. I had no idea that that was my plan. But for this and so much more I am grateful. And I am looking forward to a new fall, a new adventure, and, oh yes, a whole lot of music making.