A couple of months ago, I received an e-mail in my inbox with an invitation. It had been sent out by my choir director to a few members of each of the choirs which he directs, and was meant to gauge our interest in singing with a collaborative choir to perform Handel's Messiah in December. Not a sing-along, mind you--a performance.
At the time, I weighed the opportunity carefully, decided I would like very much to participate, and responded affirmatively.
I had no idea.
I knew that we would be performing with the city's symphony orchestra. I knew that the conductor was an international sensation, because I followed the news when they were searching for a new director. What I didn't know was that this vocal group is comprised of the best of the best in the area. From professional musicians to members of the city's opera company to musicologists to university professors...and apparently to little me, homeschooling Mama of five delightful children, with no degree, and very little vocal training--just the desire to praise my Lord.
Apparently, my choir director thinks this is enough. He himself is a professional, so it's not as though his opinion is a minor factor here. It's a little hard to swallow though. I guess I just don't hold myself in the same esteem as the singers around me. I very much enjoy singing in my regular choir, and I have cantored for nearly 20 years because I love being involved so intimately in that form of worship. It is the outlet which draws my heart in most strongly, and which truly engages my mind the best. I love attending rehearsal--the fellowship before and after, the attention to musical detail, the fact that we sing exclusively sacred text--all these things make it a time of deep spiritual and personal reflection for me. I feel so much closer to Our Lord when all of those components come together. Then add to the mix that we rehearse in the chapel from time to time, which means we directly face the Tabernacle.
Man. A professional choir?? Last night, I felt the claws of the devil starting to sink in. It was as though he had his hands so close to my flesh that he was snagging my skin with each pass. You know you're not really that good. Those people are all way better than you. Smarter, too. Not a single one of those women are bland enough to stay home with their kids. They're all out in the professional world, with multiple degrees and high-paying careers. Just who do you think you are, to be sitting in that room with them, with an internationally renowned conductor, singing one of the most beloved works ever written? You can't keep this up, you know. Just drop it. Just walk away. Just tell them you're too busy. Tell them this is no place for a Catholic mom with a mess of kids at home. Go back to your little life, your little house in your little town. Sing in your little church, but don't think it means anything to anyone, especially not to HIM.
He's rotten to the core.
It's true. This is an incredible group. Our first night of rehearsal, there was never a point during which we stopped to tune--ever--and still managed to produce overtones (link warning--music theory nerd alert!) in an acoustical nightmare of a room (padded carpet, heavily padded pews--enough to seat 600). I have never heard such an immediate blend--most choirs take at least several rehearsals to meld their voices together this well. It's a true honor to be among them, even to rehearse.
And the people in the group are amazing. Last night, I met a research fellow with the university, a science teacher, an astro-physicist, for Pete's sake (uh, that would be "rocket scientist"--!!!), and a woman who works for the symphony.
Didn't meet any other stay-at-home moms. Felt kind of dwarfed by these voices. Kind of wondered what in the world my director was thinking.
Brooded all the way home.
After singing the sacred text of the Messiah, straight from Malachi and Isaiah, words which foretold the coming of the Savior, Christ the Lord, then from Matthew, Luke, John, Psalms, Hebrews, Romans, Revelation, and I Corinthians--the words that tell the story of Our Lord....even then, I could feel him creeping in and taunting.
I said to My Darling, "What is this that I've been asked to do? I thought it would be such a joy to be part of this, such an exciting endeavor. Why am I even there? I can't hold my own with those people. I'm not of the same caliber as they are musically, let alone intellectually."
And the Lord touched his heart, and he spoke to me.
"What you have is an incredible gift. It's the gift of humility. Why do you need to be on anyone else's level? You are exactly where God intends and needs for you to be. He has given you what you need to fulfill your role in His Plan. Just sing for Him and let it be enough."
Folks, I just need to say it again. I am married to Saint Joseph.
I will let it be enough. If this is where He wants me to be, living this life as a wife and mother, raising up His children in my home, teaching them about Him and bringing them to Him every chance I get, singing His Psalms at Mass, praising Him with my small voice in whatever way I can muster, then it is enough for me.