Every year we go to a party at one of my friend's houses for The Feast of the Epiphany (the 12th and last day of Christmas). She is a musician, like I am, and her husband is an artist. Though I only see him a couple of times a year, this particular gentleman is a man that I respect, not only as an artist, but as a person. He's unbelievably intelligent and insightful. He is charitable and prayerful, but in a quiet way. When I speak to him I get the sense that he is drawing from the springs of the greatest silences in the world. A place where things that have been unspoken dwell waiting to be given words to express what they are. He seems to have the gift to see right into your soul and say to you exactly what needs to be said at exactly the right moment. You find that you must listen carefully and completely to get the full impact of what he has to say because it is as rich as a really good cheesecake: you want to savor every morsel of it and get every crumb of meaning out of what he says.
Several years ago, I had quit singing. There were many reasons for the decision, some valid, some not so valid; some my own reasons and some were reasons that were foisted on me. My soul was just withering up and I was becoming a very bitter, angry and sad person.
I was at this Epiphany party and our host made the point to seek me out and talk to me. He told me that the music was as much a part of who I am as my body was. He told me that my particular gift was the ability to sing from"inside the song". He told me, "It's a gift that not all singers possess. There is something that moves me every time you sing at church. It moves me like no other singer."
As he spoke to me, I began to cry. I couldn't stop myself. I just stood there holding my wine glass and my plate of desserts with silent tears streaming down my face. My husband came to try to "rescue me", but I didn't really want to be rescued. I wanted to be told the truth. Not singing was eating away at me. I was dying inside.
My friend never broke eye contact with me, "I know this might be painful for you, but I really feel like I need to say this to you. I couldn't let you leave without telling you: You need to sing. You have to find a way to sing."
I nodded. I don't think I could even speak. I knew he was right. I did take his advice and found a way to sing. It truly has made all the difference. I couldn't pray without my music. Sure, there are times when it's nice to just go to Mass and not be "on". But, week after week, the music is where I find my prayer. It's where I find encouragement, a kick in the rear and comfort. With out it, I am diminished.
This year, I was chatting with him about this blog and about how I haven't posted much on this blog in the past year. He kind of smiled and said, "You know, I find that I have to wait a few years for things to become a story. If I try to write about things that are going on right now, they become to big and overwhelming to me. They have no perspective. It's better to let them sit for a while until they can be encapsulated into an 'episode' and then they can be dealt with as a story."
And, you know, again, he's so right. This past year was overwhelming. Between the four people in our family we had 10 hospitalizations, a car accident, a death in the family and all the attendant drama of being a modern family with special needs children. How on earth could I hope to give some perspective to that mess while I am still going through it?
I don't think it is an accident that both of these revelations happened on The Feast of the Epiphany. God puts people in your life at the most unexpected times and places. He provides guidance from the most unlikely sources. I never expected to have the direction of my life changed by idle cocktail chatter. But, that's how it is sometimes. Sometimes, Epiphany is quite literal.
In the meantime, I am so grateful to have friends in my life to help me get through the rough times. For all of you who have said prayers for us, sent us cyber hugs or just thought fondly of us in this past year, I thank you. My thoughts and prayers are with you all this morning.
Hopefully, 2010 will provide some perspective so that I can start writing again. I know it's not great stuff. It's not the height of political prowess. It's not the grandeur of life-changing prose or poetry. It may not be anything important or moving or consequential that I am writing about. But, I appreciate you reading it all the same.