Looking back at my childhood, I generally felt very small and sometimes out of place. I didn’t know how I really fit into my family, as most of my interests were as far as the east is from the west in comparison most of the time. As I grew older, growing up in a rural congregation and encountering the same small number of family and church friends that lacked much diversity in background or schools of thought, I found myself pulling more inward. Yes, now I recognize that I am a highly-functioning introvert, but back then I just figured that I was simply meant to be in solitude. In other ways it felt like a certain kind of prison where I was confined, both in regard to the county in which I lived and the mentality of most around me.
My sequestered-self rarely felt connected to anyone. Or to God.
That is, until music found my soul. And my soul was able to find God.
I realized that I had a certain talent in music, that the mere experience of making music made me happy and, even more gratifyingly, could bring pleasure to others. I studied piano and organ, where my love of playing piano was eventually eclipsed by the pipe organ. Early on I was infatuated by the instrument, as a little child being at my mother’s side while she played the pipe organ, enthralled by all the workings and individual moving parts of the instrument, as well as the size of it (comparatively as a small child) and that you used your entire body to play it.
While music had found my soul, and I was indeed empowered to express myself in ways that words alone cannot, I was not able to say that I felt a real connection with God. I knew He was always there, as I had listened well in Sunday school, and was constantly reminded in my day to day culture. Yet, I had never felt a connection to my God.
Then, one day I found myself singing in the choir during worship at my college organ professor’s parish, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Greenville, NC. Suddenly, I was part of a group that was listening, breathing, thinking, being together, all while creating an amazing sound that filled the room. In this awareness, I remember being so overcome by the glory of this multi-faceted experience. The only way that I can begin to describe it is that everything became more: the saturation of the colors in the room, the connection of my feet to the ground, the intimacy of the connection with other choristers. Even the expansiveness of the atmosphere within the room increased.
But most striking was that I knew that something about me had changed, that some of the chains that I’d experienced my whole life had begun to fall away. I knew that, in this most evocative moment, I was in the presence of our three-person God. I could feel the mighty power of the Father, the love and grace of the Son and the simultaneous ecstasy and comfort of the Holy Spirit, all at once. I was reduced to tears yet filled with laughter.
Sometimes it takes being in such a community to cause the chains to start to fall away from our own personal prisons. Sometimes that community can be found in a musical group where synergy leads to a true connection to the divine. And maybe, just maybe, maybe it’s time for you to find your community within the Music Ministry at All Saints’.