After a nerve-wracking audition in September, I was fortunate enough to make the choir for the Highrock Christmas Benefit Concert and begin rehearsals. After two months of weekly practices and frequent battles with laryngitis, I ascended the risers with about 60 other singers for our Friday night opening show. With adrenaline running and the remnants of Ricola lozenges in my system, I gave it as much as I could while cognizant of saving my voice for the remaining five shows yet to perform. Our choir and band were rewarded at the end as the audience rose to clap and dance along with us to the final song. We left that night feeling accomplished, though tired.
My real test came on Saturday when we had three shows in a row. The thirty guests I had invited to the concert were all meant to attend the middle show. I prayed they would all make it, and as I climbed the risers for that performance I searched the audience for their faces. I found most of them, worried momentarily for the others, and then lost myself in the songs as our choir director said we should.
“I try to change it up every time,” he had told us ahead of time, “and I want you to do the same. Listen to the words. Remember what you are singing about. Let this be worship.”
So I did. And I added my worship to the voices around me.
“There’s something that has taken me a long time to learn,” our pastor shared prior to the show. “And I’m a little embarrassed that it’s taken me this long because it’s really very simple.” And he paused to hold our attention. “God is always here. He is always present. There are just certain times when he chooses to reveal himself to us, like when Moses saw the burning bush. I pray that we can be a burning bush tonight so the people who came can see God.”
By our third show the tech people had worked out the kinks with the sound system so that our voices blended well with the band. And our souls were united as our choral blend improved as well. Our passion for Christ and our love for our guests in the audience was palpable, at least to me, and I prayed was felt by everyone listening.
After the show I learned that all of my guests were able to make it — despite having young children in tow and despite illness, they were all there. And they all enjoyed the concert, some sharing later how the concert affected them personally.
On Sunday we sang twice more, giving it all we had on the last go around — since it was the last, since the audience was so engaged and since we knew we were being streamed on Facebook Live! Thousands of people watched the show. Thousands of people heard the powerful words of our Christmas carols.
Sometime in the midst of all of it my sister (who saw that middle Saturday show) asked me, “Were you really that happy when you were up there?”
“Yes,” I replied, regretting that she and others hadn’t had more opportunity to see me happy in recent years.
What can I say? Singing is my favorite thing in the world. I also love performing — and sharing Christ’s story as I constantly try to integrate my spiritual and natural lives. I haven’t had a chance in the last 18 years to perform or sing. And yes, being up there, it felt like something missing had been restored.
I have been so blessed lately to have my passions recognized — singing, through the Highrock Christmas Concert, and writing, through this website. I want to thank the thirty guests who personally supported me at the show. And I want to thank the readers of this website — for reading along, for submitting their own comments, for inspiring me with their own ideas and reading suggestions and for recognizing my intent. As one reader put it:
“I was delighted to get your email saying you were starting a blog, and as I've read it I've enjoyed hearing your perspective on books, etc. It feels like the kind of conversation you want to have regularly with people, but often don't find the time and space for it to take place.”
We all need encouragement to pursue our passions, as Rilke knew. Whatever yours might be, I would love to continue this discussion with you any time. Thanks for coming along on the ride with me.
Here you will find a catalog of my writing and reflections.