Friday, January 7, 2011

O Rest in the Lord

Take delight in the LORD, wait patiently for him, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Psalm 37:4

God’s sense of humor is once again at work. Because winter isn’t my best time, especially when projects are thinner than usual (leading to economic fears), I’m being sent daily reminders of what my real task might be right now: to rest in the Lord, just as the trees and flowers and creatures are resting in the January sun.
            God uses whatever means are available. Having decided a few years ago that I wanted to sing with a local symphony’s chorus badly enough to work toward an audition, I hired a voice coach. On the basis of two brief phone conversations, she chose for me an audition piece from Felix Mendelssohn’s oratorio Elijah. The lyrics are a paraphrase of Psalm 37, one of my all-time favorite psalms. “O rest in the Lord; wait patiently for him, and he shall give thee thy heart’s desires. Commit thy way unto him and trust in him, and fret not thyself because of evildoers. Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for him.”
            I began fretting as soon as I saw the song; I would need to hit a D, and I’m a typical alto, phobic about anything higher than a C above middle C. My teacher blithely ignored my concern. She considered me a mezzo-soprano, a real blow to my contralto-wannabe ego. Don’t ask me why the contralto is superior. As an upper elementary student told to sing second soprano, I must have thought the term meant second rate. Despite the glories of the Anglican “middle way” of moderation, middle soprano is not where I thought I was going.
            In any case, I was to practice daily, first warming up with scales (which both of the cats hated hearing) and trying to remember to breathe properly. And then I sang the words, so that they became the tune in my head when I listened to the interior soundtrack. Rest; fret not, not even about being a mezzo.
            I’m not much for patient waiting; nonetheless, God did give me the desires of my heart: I passed the audition and have had the joy of rehearsals of great music and performance at annual concerts. During the months of chemotherapy, the director allowed me to join rehearsals for a spring concert, even though I told him I wasn't sure I would be able to sing. I was not strong enough to perform; the effects of chemo are cumulative, and I was too weak and tired to sing or stand. But in my head were the words and music to our concert piece: Beethoven's "Ode to Joy" in the Ninth Symphony. Rest. Joy. What else is there?

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