Thursday, October 13, 2011

Music Therapy

It's been a great week. Good progress on sewing projects, an evening run to the hot tub generously shared to us by the Boys on Laurelhurst (we are the Girls on Blaine, it works quite nicely). I have almost all the necessary components for my Halloween costume, which will be fun. A very busy, full few days at work.
The only part of this week that hasn't been as good was an unexpected, painful conversation with a friend last night that left me in a state of, shall we say, emotional delicacy. This is not the place to go into details, but it was a conversation that left me with a hole in my gut all day.
But I knew that I had something waiting for me at the end of the day- choir practice. A choir loft full of almost four hundred good, fun, loving people singing together. I found myself praying that I would find songs in my folder that could give me a happiness boost. As I flipped through the sheet music, I was a little disappointed that none of them stood out to me as old comfort favorites, but still to get to sing was good enough.

Then we started actually singing. Somewhere in the mix, we sang "Consider the Lilies," an old favorite of mine. I sang it at my college graduation for my bachelor's degree. Something about the last verse started working on my tear ducts

Consider the sweet, tender children who must suffer on this earth
The pains of all of them He carried from the day of His birth
He clothes the lilies of the field
He feeds the lambs of His fold
And He will heal those who trust Him and make their hearts as gold

It especially resonated because on Monday, as I was driving to work and having a little chat with God on the way, I happened to pose the question to Him, "why on earth do you put up with my crazy antics?" And the response came in a startling flash- an image from the previous evening, Sunday, when I had been playing with my great little buddy H-man, my 20-month-old nephew. He's got some antics, I tell you what. But I love him so much, and I think he's adorable.

As this came up in my mind, I started laughing out loud. "Heavenly Father, really? You think I'm adorable?" and I felt the answer come right back, "Yes. I do. You're my little girl and I love you."

So here I am, trying to be a sophisticated adult living on my own, having a career, and traveling the world, and my Father is telling me that I still am, and will always be, His little girl.

Consider the sweet, tender children who must suffer on this earth

All of this popped through my head while I sang tonight.

Then, we proceeded to sing "I Believe in Christ." I must admit, it's a stirring anthem, but it's never been one of my absolute favorite hymns, probably mostly because I don't like the flow of the melody. Regardless, tonight, since I was already leaking at the eyes, that song struck me more forcefully than usual. Once again, it was a certain segment of the last verse that really woke up my spiritual senses:

I believe in Christ, He stands supreme
From Him I'll gain my fondest dream
And while I strive through grief and pain
His voice is heard, ye shall obtain

And yes, I'm definitely feeling some grief and pain right now, and that made me tear up, but more powerful than my own emotions in this case, I had a memory pop up that I hadn't thought of for a long time. I remember, as a teenager, sitting on the church pew with my family and singing "I Believe in Christ" during sacrament meeting. I was sitting near my mom, who was probably about three or four years into her multiple sclerosis diagnosis, and definitely in a lot of pain- beyond my comprehension, and that was well over a decade ago. In any case, as we sang the last verse, she visibly began to weep. It touched me. She didn't outright complain much about her condition, so I guess back then it was relatively easy to forget how hard the disease had made her life. But she did, and does, believe in Christ, and is truly committed to the ideal of standing with Him at the last day.

I don't know why I thought of that tonight, except the theme of the evening seemed to be the tenderness of Christ's beckoning to us, first with Consider the Lilies and now through I Believe in Christ. By this point, I had salt streaks down my cheeks and the front of my dress was soaked. But you know what? I felt so good inside. Not happy, exactly, but peaceful with a deep kind of peace- I might even call it the peace that passeth understanding.

It turned out that there were a few other tender mercies in the form of songs, too, and by the time I left, although I was tired and ragged, I felt so good inside. I'll just leave you with the lyrics to the song that touched me the most. I wish I could play a recording of it on my blog, because the arrangement is breathtaking as well, but you'll just get the words tonight:
Praise, my soul, the King of heaven,
to the throne thy tribute bring;
ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven,
evermore God's praises sing.
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Praise the everlasting King.

Praise the Lord for grace and favor
to all people in distress;
praise God, still the same as ever,
slow to chide, and swift to bless.
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Glorious now God's faithfulness.

Fatherlike, God tends and spares us;
well our feeble frame God knows;
motherlike, God gently bears us,
rescues us from all our foes.
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Widely yet God's mercy flows.

Angels in the heights, adoring,
you behold God face to face;
saints triumphant, now adoring,
gathered in from every race.
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Praise with us the God of grace.


Ross & Amanda Goodman- but mostly Amanda :) said...

I am sorry for your tenderness and the cause of it, but I love hearing about the way you find comfort because minus the world renown choir, it is similar to the way I look for peace as well. Real conversations with Heavenly Father in non-traditional places complete with random flash backs and images and words in hymns have been vehicles of strength to me for years. Thanks for sharing this very personal tidbit of your day. I still look up to you even though I haven't seen you in years!

Daddy Parks said...

Whoa - small world moment. You two (Amanda & Maria) know each other?!

Danielle said...

How funny, I was having a similar hard time when I went to LISTEN to the RS broadcast, and they sang Consider the Lilies, and I noticed the same last verse and felt comforted in the same way. I'm glad we can be touched by the Spirit that way.

StephenEmily Stacey said...

Your a beautiful and amazing person Maria. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. So many times I need to remember that I am Heavenly Father's "little girl" and that he loves me no matter what. The strength that comes from that is indescribable. I miss you. We should get together when we come out to visit in December.

StephenEmily Stacey said...

And I meant to say, "You're" an amazing person.

chanel said...

Thank you, All of those songs are beautiful and I love to be reminded of their power.