Sunday, July 25, 2010

My Soul Sang, My Spirit Soared

Yesterday was the best Saturday I have had in ages. After almost a year's absence I made it back to the St Francis Xavier Choir (SFx Choir) at St Ignatius Church. It's a choir of folks from the Philippines; men and women who work in Singapore, and who have amazing gifts, talents and a love for music and singing. They opened their hearts to me early last year and I joined them for a few sessions of singing at Mass on Saturdays, preceded by a session of choir practice each time.

The last time I sang with them was 22nd August 2009. Just 5 days after that I received news that my father was in a coma following a heart attack in Kuala Lumpur. I spend the next few weeks commuting between KL and Singapore, until he passed away on 26th September. The grief and pain I felt was so deep, that I couldn't bring myself to sing for a long time, and I barely made it to church, because I kept crying and the memories of growing up without a father, and living through divorce meant that there was a lot of healing that I had to go through. I told myself I needed time to heal, and after a few months I felt my soul had healed, but then my physical body fell apart.

After weeks of not being able to eat and a few hospital stays I finally had surgery, the details of which are described elsewhere in my blog. All through this time I didn't sing in the Choir neither did I really make it to church regularly. I hardly went because I was so tired. Leaving home was an effort, talking with people drained me, and I hardly sang. It's hard to sing when you don't eat. It's hard to sing when you're in pain. It's hard to sing of God's love and mercy when you're battling depression. Tears were never far from me, and while the pain of my father's passing faded into the background, the grief I felt at my own situation came to the fore...and so one pain replaced another. And again I told myself that I needed time to heal, and so I determined to let that time pass, and I knew in my heart that when I was well I would know it.

Yesterday I returned to the Choir. During the rehearsal we sang a few songs I was unfamiliar with, but the beauty of this Choir is that people like me : a rusty soprano past her prime, an absentee getting her life back on track, being chronically ill and constantly overwhelmed by life...someone like me can just come in and be transported to another realm. I felt like my very soul sang and my spirit soared, on the wings of eagles. I, a little eaglet, soared on the wings of giant eagles, the Choir members who welcomed me back into their group, and somehow my voice managed to come out and the parts that I felt were wobbly for me somehow just blended in...I don't know how or when it happened but it simply did.

During the practice I found myself in tears when we sang a beautiful song : Take and Receive. Surreptitiously wiping tears and dabbing my nose, and fobbing off the potential Drama Mama scene of my having a complete emotional collapse and wailing my guts out took some self control. :) The words of the song moved me deeply. Here they are :


Take and receive, O Lord my liberty
Take all my will, my mind, my memory;
All things I hold and all I own are Thine,
Thine was the gift, to Thee I all resign.

Do Thou direct and govern all and sway,
Do what Thou wilt command and I obey:
Only Thy grace, Thy love on me bestow,
These make me rich, all else will I forego.

What a truly lovely song. It touched me on so many levels. My battlefield is my mind, and to some extent my memory. I tend to dwell on sadness and melancholy is never far...Sometimes my memory seems to vanish altogether, or at the very least I remember sad things...when surely my life has so much goodness and loveliness and blessings that should make me happy. And so this song reminded me to give all of who I am to God. And tears came to me when I sang the verse.

I cry easily. This is certainly true. Sometimes it doesn't take much to get me going. A scene of suffering and starvation on tv, or reading about the loss of a child, or feeling frustration...tears come quickly. Unbidden, and often unhidden. But that's just me. I am easily moved and overly sensitive. Yesterday I managed to get my tears under control, but I knew that very moment was special for me. And that feeling of it being special stayed with me throughout Mass.

Special because I had finally made my way back to the Choir, special because the wonderful Choir members were so welcoming and loving despite my having been far less loving in the past, special because I felt God's presence in the singing, and in the Mass, special because He touched my inner being. My soul, my spirit...when I left I felt renewed. Only God can do that. I felt humbled and also privileged, that in one special day, yesterday, God met with me and spoke to me, and I with Him. And He used the Choir as His Voice.

Thanks for reading :)