Taking a break from cancer today, getting ready to go to chorus rehearsal. I did pass the audition; this is my fourth year of singing with the chorus. I am not overprepared!
Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with all thy might.
And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as unto the Lord, and not unto men, knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of inheritance, for ye serve the Lord Christ.
I memorized those verses as a teenager, in the King James Version with its lovely, archaic thys and yes, and I’ve had them reinforced to me often throughout my life. My Greek professor used to encourage us “Do it, and don’t play at it,” no doubt in reference to learning our Greek verb tenses, which for the most part eluded me. My seminary New Testament professor believed that anything worth doing is hard, a sentiment he expressed after I’d whined about a passage we were working through in class.
Despite these truths, I tend to be a dabbler and a putterer about everything except my writing. If it stops being fun, I stop doing it, preferring my amateur status, which explains why I quit studying clarinet (after two weeks, in fourth grade) and didn’t pursue piano lessons more than a few years. Today, a month after I began voice lessons, I was brought up short. My coach, who is supposed to be making me just good enough to get into a chorus this spring, wants to make me a singer. She told me to vocalize—you know, the boring up and down the scales on ah or oo or la—for half an hour a day! Thirty minutes! It will make me limber and stretch me, she assured me.
I’ve been happy to make a joyful noise, as the psalms encourage us to do. I have no illusions about becoming a soloist. I’ve been practicing my audition song to a tape featuring Janet Baker, a genuine singer, and I know my limits.
I didn’t stop to tell my vocal coach that I was perfectly happy to be a sow’s ear and had no hankerings after that silk purse, musically speaking. I have a teacher’s heart, and I know what it is to see potential. I once berated a young man who was failing my class but had done well on the standardized tests; he assured me he really was dumb, and the test results were a mistake. I now can empathize.
It strikes me that this woman is being Jesus to me, the uncomfortable, inconvenient Jesus who calls us to be more than we are, who does not leave us in our complacency and self-satisfaction. Jesus is always cheering us on to do something we don’t think we can do. Jesus, who according to the Gospel writers didn’t seem to have much time for dabblers, but wanted people following him wholeheartedly.
So despite the “sacrifice” of time that vocalizing will require, I may just have to do it. Who knows—perhaps I’ll be the most over-prepared chorus member they’ve ever known!