I felt only slightly sorry for the person who had to stand next to me during the recent Montgomery Chorale concert. She probably would have preferred a stronger, more accurate voice. But I had squeezed in under the “good enough” category when I took my place in the alto section, and there I was.
I’m not deaf, though, and I do have empathy for those who would have preferred to stand next to a leader but what they got was me.
The lady in front of me may have had other concerns. After the concert, I apologized for poking her in the back with my folder (several times). She said it happens and that she didn’t notice. A charitable response.
Joining the Montgomery Chorale was about being around different people from different houses of worship and in the presence of a different type of music. If it meant stepping up in areas where I am under-qualified, so be it. If it meant being someone who can’t quite figure out how to hold a folder without poking another alto in the back, so be it. If it meant being unable to turn a page of music at the right time, as if a prankster snuck Elmer’s glue between the sheets when I wasn’t looking… well, that’s what it means.
Sometimes you have to step up and be a leader when you aren’t prepared to be a leader. But sometimes you’re doing quite a lot when you’re just stepping up to get in the group.
The most concerning moment was a year ago August, the first Tuesday of the first rehearsal I attended. I had signed up with the hope of newness, but by the time I was driving across town, the dread of the unknown was starting to take over. Right when I stepped out of my car, though, I saw a friendly face in the parking lot, so I already knew somebody. Then in the rehearsal hall, I saw more people I knew.
Turns out, other people were new too, which I didn’t realize. Sometimes you think everybody’s in a different boat – one that got there ahead of you – but many times they’re in the same boat you are.
As we ended that first rehearsal, I spoke to a colleague I’d known way back when. She asked, “How long have you been in the Chorale?” I answered, “About two hours. How about you?” Same.
At times this different type of music means singing words from a language not my own. Like Hebrew, Russian or Latin. The opening piece for this particular concert, Ubi Caritas, has Latin text that begins:
Ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est.
Congregavit not in unum Christi amor.
I can’t read Latin, but I can pick out some words. Charity. Love. God. Congregate. One. Christ.
So, you put some lyrics together you don’t quite understand, and you put some music together that you are trying to follow, and you stand together with a lot of others trying to do the same… it works in, shall we say, concert. One sound, one hope, one experience.
Which in this case fits the translation: “Where charity and love are, God is there. Christ’s love has gathered us into one.”
Whether you’re ahead or behind, alone or together, frightened or brave, we really are all in the same boat.
Enjoy your magnificent journey.
– Minnie Lamberth
The Magnificent Journey
Vol. 2, Issue 37