The Invisible Wound

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I’m doing some strange things of late. At least they feel strange for me, at this point in my life. 

I have joined a choir. And not just one choir, but two.

Uh. . . where do I think I’m going to find the time for all of that? 

I was also invited to sing in a vocal ensemble that is fledging at our church community and I said yes.

What in the heck??

This is my mental (and actual, day-to-day) list these days:

     I’ve got a book brewing in me, and I keep pushing it further onto the back-most burner of my brain. Yet, it’s there . . . niggling.

     I’ve got a stack of books on my bedside shelf and another dozen whispering to me from my Kindle.

     I need to think ahead for the blog (although I’ve done some of that. . . have I mentioned there will be a Lenten daily devotional series and that it’s all finished??  That is something of a miracle right there.)

     Several of those books on the stacks of my life need to be reviewed.

     My mom took a nasty tumble this week, landing in the ER where we both spent nearly six hours on Wednesday. (She is bruised and very tired, but nothing was broken, thanks be to God.)

     My husband is dealing with vertigo off and on.

     We signed up to get our names on the waiting list for apartments at a nearby retirement community and yet . . . 

     We’re also looking at houses. Smaller houses, closer to the ocean. And when I say ‘we,’ that really means, ‘I’ because houses are my territory. I do the read-ups, the shopping, the open houses and if, by some miracle, something suitable actually shows up, then I bring my husband along. Fortunately, my son has interest and some expertise in house-shopping and he sends me possibilities.

We’re in the midst of change, maybe even a sea change — I can feel it. And right smack dab in the center, there’s this thing about choral singing.

What???

Well, it’s a long story, which I will try to shorten for the purposes of this post.

From the age of 5 until the winter I moved to Santa Barbara to take a pastoral position here, I sang in some sort of choir. Always. Church choirs, junior high and high school choirs, college choirs, seminary choir. And I loved it. It was just a part of who I was, a regular, steady place where I could lose myself in sound, in the color of chords, in the joy of making harmony. Choir was the place where I could feed a whole other part of me, a part that wasn’t particularly visible in the rest of my life.

And then we moved here. For me to take a pastoral position in this church that I love, a church that didn’t have a choir.

But I was so excited about the job! And the people! And the place! And the call!

So the choral singing part of me got shoved to the edges, sublimated, out of sight and nearly forgotten.

Until that little ensemble I mentioned sang in church one Sunday a couple of months ago, before I joined it. So on that particular Sunday, I was not a singer, I was a listener.

And that felt so.very.wrong.

I do not understand all of this, believe me. I’ve carried it around for several weeks now, pondering why I had such a visceral reaction to that whole morning. And a phrase I wrote recently seemed to sum it up: “It was a wound I didn’t know I had.”

I can do that to myself pretty easily, it seems. Can you? There was sacrifice of various kinds when we made the decision to come here when we did. But far larger than that, at least to me at that time, was the beautiful truth that this call was also a great gift. A Great Gift. So, I tended to let the gift part overshadow some of the grieving that I needed to do when we transferred our entire life to a new community, a new lifestyle, a new everything.

That Sunday morning opened the door to a wound I had ignored for a very long time, a piece of myself that had been buried, a piece that needed to experience the light of day once again.

So I decided that I need to sing. Regularly. Chorally.

Now please understand — it’s been eighteen years since I’ve sung in a choir. And I am now 70 years old. The voice, she ain’t what she used to be – nowhere near, as a matter of fact. But here’s what I’m learning. I can still read music pretty dang well. I still love to tackle new things. I still love to hear others around me singing their parts. I still love the totally unique sound that combined human voices can bring to the world. I still LOVE IT.

So on Tuesday nights, from 7:00 – 10:00, I’m singing in the Santa Barbara Community College Concert Choir. We’re doing a concert on May 2 — lots of spirituals, folk songs, fun stuff. There are about 100 singers, half of them college students, half of them 50+ — and we sound great. GREAT, I tell you.

And then, for a complete contrast, every other Friday night, I become part of a small group of women, almost all of them 60+, who sing a very limited and very interesting set of songs designed to be sung around the bed of seriously ill or dying people. Neither of these choirs is ‘Christian,’ though each one sings some music from the Christian tradition. Each of them is totally unique and each is expanding my horizons in new ways.

Do you remember that my word for this year is S T R E T C H?

Well, you know what? This stretch feels really, really good.

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Comments

  1. Sandy Hay says:

    This is all making me smile. Our generation needs to stretch. Thanks for leading us Diana.

  2. Hey, Sandy – I don’t know about leading anybody! I just know I took a bit of step into the abyss of my own terror and longing and I’m glad I did.

  3. What a beautiful new thing in your life, Diana! And I love how you show that events in our lives may bring both a gift and a wound–and that we can find those wounds unexpectedly touched by God. Also, I’m excited that you’re writing a book!

    • Thank you, Elena – and you are so right: events can bring both gift and wound. And. . . about that book. . . well, I have to start over and I’m resisting it a more than a little bit. Not completely, but somewhat. What I’m doing is more reading, more thinking and reorganizing parts of my life. Maybe it will work??

  4. i enjoyed reading your post diana:) i love what you said about a wound that you didn’t know you had! as i get older, i find that to be true in certain areas:) lately, i’ve been cleaning out files and emptying closets and drawers. as i throw and give away, i am remembering the things i have been missing.

    over the past 3 years, my life has been taken up with getting a house ready to move out of, selling it (it sold way faster than expected!) moving away, moving a year later in the same town to an apt. not everything fit into the apt.!

    i’m finally getting to the two rooms that have been overwhelming me! it’s amazing how liberating it is to get rid of all this stuff! it reminds me of the things i liked to do for fun…and that i have missed!

  5. Do you care to say more about the wound?

    I sometimes say that X and Y are flip sides of the same coin. (Paranoia and conceit; Tigger and Eyeore, etc.) I wonder whether, in this case, somehow terror and longing are flip sides of the same coin.

    • I think terror and longing are often flip sides of the same coin and learning to a.)sift through the two conflicting sides of that, and b.) find the courage to step through/into is one of the bigger parts of this whole life journey. The ‘wound’ was mostly around music – something I hadn’t looked at seriously enough for along time. It was a also a way to reconnect to my dad, who introduced me to music, surrounded me with it all my growing up years and who died 10 years ago yesterday. I don’t discount this timing one bit. There was also, I am quite sure, a ‘man, do I feel left out’ piece in there, too.

  6. Singing in the choir is the last thing I will give up at my church. It is why I NEVER miss church – not even in the middle of a snow storm like today. I am a part of the choir, others depend on me. I remember singing in a youth choir with you 55 years ago. You were the heart of the alto section then, and I can’t imagine you not singing in a choir for almost 20 years. I am happy for you.
    Newell

    • I hear you, Newell, and am so very glad you still have this part of your own story so firmly implanted in your soul. And I cannot even begin to imagine living in, much less venturing out into, a snow storm!!! Thanks for your good wishes, my friend.

  7. Such a treat to see you. Been way toooooo long. I look forward to seeing you again. AND I’ll be 70 in July. As I said in my book, “Life Gets Complicated!” In our world, definitely compared to the past generations. Thanks for seeing you!

  8. Wow!! You nailed what’s been in my head for some time. I too am a singer…I was a soloist/choir member/small group member/worship leader for most of my life…since age 4. About 18 months ago I stepped away from the music part of me to concentrate on some education I felt I needed. Since then I graduated from Bible School, left my job, we have moved to another state (1700 across country) to an entirely different way of life. I’m not sure where I belong right now but in my heart there is always music and always the hunger to put pen to paper (not much success in that area).
    “Until that little ensemble I mentioned sang in church one Sunday a couple of months ago, before I joined it. So on that particular Sunday, I was not a singer, I was a listener.

    And that felt so.very.wrong.

    I do not understand all of this, believe me. I’ve carried it around for several weeks now, pondering why I had such a visceral reaction to that whole morning. And a phrase I wrote recently seemed to sum it up: “It was a wound I didn’t know I had.”

    I can do that to myself pretty easily, it seems. Can you? There was sacrifice of various kinds when we made the decision to come here when we did. But far larger than that, at least to me at that time, was the beautiful truth that this call was also a great gift. A Great Gift. So, I tended to let the gift part overshadow some of the grieving that I needed to do when we transferred our entire life to a new community, a new lifestyle, a new everything.”

    This part of your post so totally resonates in my spirit. Thank you for putting your words there for me to read today. Thank you for speaking truth and enlightenment. I am 64 (next week) and seem to be trying to find my way into a place I know God has led me to. I’m waiting right now trying to listen to His voice.

    I love reading your post …keep it up!!

    • Thanks so much for your encouragement, Margaret. I’m glad this resonated with you today and I encourage you to find an outlet for that musical piece of yourself. (I looked for groups that did not require an audition. . . I’m not quite ready for that one!)

  9. Bless you as you remember what it feels like to praise Him with song. “Choir was the place where I could feed a whole other part of me, a part that wasn’t particularly visible in the rest of my life.” Oh I get that line Diana. It speaks of the longing to line up with God creativley, artistically. .

    • I think you’re right, Lisha. We do long for those creative pieces of ourselves, the ones that maybe show us the imago dei most clearly? Thanks for your encouragement.

  10. How I love to sing! I’ve sung in different church choirs from 100-voice to a handful. I’ve pushed it to the back burner for several years. When my kids were little, we had a nursery for practice night. Now there are the sometime chauffeur duties that interfere with practice times… I’m not crazy about driving at night these days and definitely not in winter when the roads here can be bad. The church we go to now is 20 miles away. Maybe all excuses. I miss it. It filled up a big part of me. I’m so excited you’re doing this.

    • I do know about ‘excuses,’ ah, yes, terribly familiar with those. But the wintertime roads where you live? That’s not an excuse, that’s wisdom, I think!! I don’t like driving at night alone, but I will do it for a while longer in order to sing again. But 20 miles? I don’t think so. Sigh. Maybe you can sing with CDs??

  11. A wound you didn’t know you had. Wow. So proud of you, Diana!

    I’ve been thinking–and I might as well say it out loud on the big, bad internet–of becoming a cantor at my church. My reservation is that I do not sing soprano (more like tenor), and some folks can be very traditional about such things. I’ve been too afraid to ask if it would be a problem.

    • Thank you, Megan. I think becoming a cantor would be a delightful thing for you to consider. What’s the worst thing they could say to you? “No?” Well, maybe it’s worth the risk, just in case they might say, “Sure, let’s look into that possibility.” You’ll never know until you open the door, right?

  12. When I was in Junior High, the choir teacher asked me to not sing so loud. I got the hint…and ever since I’ve been terribly self conscious. Amazing how those words hurt … for a long time.

    I love your life — and the fearless way you tackle new things. It keeps you fresh and invigorated. Bring it!

    • AW, David, I’m so sorry you got told that — not right, not right at all. And thanks so much for your kind words! I love my life, too. Trying to own this decade, as much as my aging body will allow. 🙂

  13. I, too, am in a choir-less state that seems unnatural, but your words give me hope that one day I will once again be a singer. In the meantime, I’m thankful for the gifts of this season of life. Your words do orient your readers toward thankfulness, and that is a gift. Thank you.

    • Hang onto that hope, Michele. And when the time is right – make it a reality. Thanks for your kind words of encouragement.