I have been told that I am fearless.
I lived in Africa. I walked 500 miles. I jumped into a hole in the lake in the middle of winter. I’ll eat anything, talk to anyone, share my food, ask others to share their food with me, etc…..
But, ask me to sing. Request that I chant the liturgy during Sunday morning service. Sing alone.
Fear. Only Fear.
I am terrified to sing in front of others. Absolutely terrified. I’ve avoided singing publicly for a while now, even going as far as dropping a class to avoid chanting in front of my classmates and professor. There is something about the vulnerability, the openness, the uncertainty of my breath and voice that brings panic to my mind. Yes, I am a perfectionist. I have no confidence in my voice.
But the song in my life continues to speak. During internship years ago, a group of women retreated for one night. It was a time of grace, a time to be together in community, to laugh, to cry, to eat, to play, to be present, and to experience the grace of one another. We centered our time in the story of John 6 and placed ourselves with Jesus and the others, hungry, waiting for food, and experiencing the grace of abundance from the simplest of means. Together and individually, we defined grace in our lives. Our time together as women flowed with authenticity, passion, creativity, and honesty. One woman wrote her story in the form of a poem expressing how the story in John 6 touched her. Our lives intertwined, we returned home full of grace.
A while later, this same woman turned the poem into a song, a simple hymn-like creation. She asked me to sing with her, in church, in front of everyone – it would be our gift, grace experienced and given.
Again, I felt fear. Yet, I felt compelled. I felt comfort. I felt community. And I knew that grace would be shared.
So, I agreed to sing. In church. In front of the congregation. With a microphone. I agreed to sing.
Another weekend came and the woman and I retreated for another night. In the evening hours while others slept, we crept into the sanctuary. We sat by the organ, illuminated with the glow of candles and Christ’s presence, and we sang. Together our voices joined as one. The fear faded. Perfectionism diminished. Authenticity and honesty revealed. Pure and simple. Song. Music. Heart. Soul. Grace.