Since leaving Seattle I have been bereft (nice word) of a much treasured pair of earrings. Not to make this another “lost jewelry” story I am skipping right to the part this morning where I found them in a pocket as I was preparing clothes to go into the washer. (And it’s another string of stories were I to tell of all the things I’ve washed before I started checking pockets consistently.) As I was feeling a rush of gratitude and relief inwardly, a song that I had not sung for fifty years came to my mind and out of my mouth. Not only the complicated melody with the harmonies in my head, but also all the words!
I was probably 15 or 16 and in the upper stages of 4-H in my rural community. Every summer the state fair in Milwaukee hosted the state 4-H chorus and orchestra and had them perform in midway programs. My friend and I decided to be brave and audition. I don’t think either one of us had ever tried out for anything but we both took piano lessons and were in the high school chorus so it was worth a try.
I remember the audition. We had to travel to a nearby town and wait our turn to go into the room with the chorus director. He talked with me a bit and then had me read some music and match some pitches with my voice. I don’t remember if I actually sang anything, but probably. Then the long wait until a letter in the mail informed me that I’d been accepted into the alto section of the chorus. I was stoked.
The time came a month or so later to make the trip to Milwaukee, a good six hours away, for the four day experience at the state fair. The chorus was a large group, close to 100 I’m guessing, and they were all strangers to me – coming from all parts of the state of Wisconsin. We were housed in a dorm of some kind, but my memory is dim on that aspect probably because we didn’t spend much time doing anything but singing.
The first two days were non-stop practice. All the songs were unfamiliar, ambitious choral pieces. We sang until we were worried we would have no voice left. The words and melodies were burned into our minds until no printed music was needed and all our attention was on the director. I fell in love with the power of being part of a responsive group and having such amazing music pulled out of us by a skilled leader. I fell in love with the music itself and have since found those pieces and used them again.
As often happens, something small, and relatively insignificant triggered this memory and brought the words to one of the songs back to me this morning.
“Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation and uphold me, uphold me with thy free Spiriit, thy free Spirit. Then will I teach transgressors thy way, and sinners shall be converted unto thee.”
The words are from Psalm 51:12, 13. Several songs from our program were from scripture references and there was nothing politically incorrect about doing that in those days. I don’t know how it would go today. We performed on two different days and enjoyed the state fair in between our times on stage. It was an experience of great value for me.
I am not saying that the joy of finding lost jewelry compares to the joy of God’s eternal salvation. But I think that anytime God allows us a joy of any proportion he likes it to remind us of what He has done, and is doing, and will do. Just sayin’, I am reminded and grateful today.