Saturday was one of those days when all my good intentions were getting steam-rollered by my tendency to procrastinate and feel sorry for my overburdened self. We were having friends over to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day that evening and I still hadn’t washed the kitchen floor or finished setting the table, and I had to write a meditation for Sunday morning, and my dear husband was hogging the computer and then decided we should run to the hardware store on our way to a special choir rehearsal in the middle of the day. That kind of a day.
But we got to church on time for rehearsal, even with the hardware store glitch. The choir milled about for a while as people arrived and settled in. And then we started to sing. First two amazing pieces that we had been rehearsing – “E Oru O,” an African welcoming song with drums and gorgeous rhythms and melodies, and “Sing for Peace,” with bells and children’s choir and a crescendo to a glorious finale of PEACE. We practiced with the drums and the children and the early and late choirs together for the first time, producing such rich and beautiful sounds together. And then, to top it all off, our guest musician Matt Meyer led us in singing without hymnals – but with gusto, in harmony, in beauty.
It transformed my whole day, this making music together. By the time we got home, washing the floor seemed easy. Having our friends break bread with us was a pleasure. And to top it all, we got to do it again during Sunday morning worship, when the singing at both services was even more remarkable with Matt leading hundreds of people in singing together.
In my Wellspring group, we’re preparing for the session called “The Theology of Joy” by keeping a joy journal for two weeks. One of the questions we ask is whether joy has the power to transform us. This weekend it certainly did. The joy of singing together in community – when every part contributed to the beauty of the whole, when the whole couldn’t be the same without all the parts – transformed me from being self-focused and slightly resentful to being full of love and peace – and rhythm. Singing, our hearts beat time with the drums, our hands clapped, our feet stomped, and we shared a common expression of joy.
There are always shadows, of course. We sang of peace because our country marks the fifth anniversary of a disastrous war. Poverty threatens the wellbeing of families and children everywhere. But making joyful music with other people raises up the hope that we can make a difference. It gives comfort in knowing that we are together in this struggle. It strengthens my will to stay the course. May we all have joyful moments that sustain us.