advent, grief, jan richardson, music, singing


I love to sing. I’ve sung for as long as I can remember. Anywhere, anytime. It started as a child because my parents love to sing too. I used to find it annoying that any word or phrase would launch my dad into a song. Now, I do it too. When I hear the word “rise” I can’t help but start singing Hamilton almost immediately. In fact, I had to take a break from Hamilton because every word I heard pushed me into another musical rendition. Even for me, it was a bit too much. For Brad? Well, he loves me 😉

I love singing harmony – I’ve mentioned that before. Because I’m often the one leading music for others, I don’t get to sing harmony as much as I like. I was a camp counselor in high school, so I would lead music around the campfire on those humid, mosquito-infested Indiana summer nights. I was a band leader at my first youth ministry position – I loved it when there were singers who could carry the melody and I could just sit back and harmonize to my heart’s delight. I have no problem handing the lead spot to someone else, but I often find myself in the position of leading.

I just love music. I love to sing. Music naturally flows through me – there’s a direct line from my heart to my voice. Which is why, 8 weeks ago, I stopped singing. I couldn’t do it. I heard a favorite song on the radio, but my mouth wouldn’t open. I did my best to sing along with hymns at church, but barely anything came out. The joy that naturally flowed from my heart to my voice was gone. Joy had disappeared and so did my songs.

When it comes to grief, I take it one day a time. If I feel good one day, I celebrate it. If I feel very sad one day, I feel it. A few weeks ago I thought, “I think I made it through – I’m better now” and then two days later I was sobbing and unable to get out of bed. From that I learned it’s better to just take it one day at a time – no judgment about each day. However, I have noticed something…slowly my songs are returning.

A few days ago while Brad and I were baking, I suddenly started singing Ave Maria quite loudly. This in itself is not unusual, but it’s been a few months since it’s happened. I find myself humming along and even singing to Christmas tunes on Pandora. Two weeks ago we went to the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra’s Messiah Sing-along and I sang along (as best I could) for an hour. It didn’t even dawn on me what I had done until it was over.

It still feels strange. But, just like laughter and silliness, singing is starting to return – to find its place in my life again. It isn’t as prevalent as it was, but I know it will be again. Last week we went to the Jazz Kitchen to see Sarah Scarborough and her family in their Holiday Show. Afterward, as we were walking back to our car, I told Brad that I want to be in a band. I want to be a back up singer – I want to harmonize and make music with others. I don’t want to be the star – I want to make the star sound better. 😉

Maybe I will. Maybe I will be in a band someday. Maybe I will write songs again. Maybe I will achieve my 13-year-old dream and become the next member of the Indigo Girls. Hey, I can dream! However, what I know for sure is that my voice will return in all its glory one day. Until then, I’ll take each little snippet of joy that escapes through my mouth as a sign that grief, a new reality of life, will not have the last note.

Today’s post inspired by this blessing from Jan Richardson:

A Blessing Called Sanctuary
You hardly knew
how hungry you were
to be gathered in,
to receive the welcome
that invited you to enter
entirely –

Nothing of you
found foreign or strange,
nothing of your life
to leave behind
or to carry in silence
or in shame.

Tentative steps
became settling in,
leaning into the blessing
that enfolded you,
in the circle
that stunned you
with its unimagined grace.

You began to breathe again,
to move without fear,
to speak with abandon
the words you carried
in your bones,
that echoed in your being.

You learned to sing.

But the deal with this blessing
is that it will not leave you alone,
will not let you linger
in safety,
in stasis.

The time will come
when this blessing
will ask you to leave,
and not because it has tired of you
but because it desires for you
to become the sanctuary
that you have found –

to speak your word
into the world,
to tell what you have heard
with your own ears,
seen with your own eyes,
known in your own heart:

that you are beloved,
precious child of God,
beautiful to behold,
and you are welcome
and more than welcome



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