I find it ironic that while my soul longs for and celebrates the stillness and contemplative spirit of advent, my body is in constant motion these days. My semester is coming to a close, which means that there are papers to grade and projects to complete, and of course meetings with everyone who is trying to wrap things up before winter break. There are wonderful holiday gatherings to host, and to which I am invited. There are school concerts and work receptions, fun to be had and halls to be decked. Then, there are quiet days and advent services to nourish my soul, along with times for deep, soulful connection with friends who touch and guide my spirit. On top of this, on Sunday, I will perform the Vivaldi Gloria with my choir.
I love to sing. When I sing, my soul is at peace and my heart is happy. I am thrilled to sing, but I also get nervous when I perform. I wish I had better control over my vocal shakiness, or the fact that my mind goes blank when I am standing up in front of a room holding a piece of music. I am wrestling with this tonight because I am preparing to sing the beautiful and soulful Domine Deus, Agnus Dei with my choir, and I have not been successful in practicing as much as I would like to in order to sing this solo from the depths of my soul…without shaking…by Sunday.
Today, I had a break-through idea, though. I bought a CD of my favorite version of this majestic Baroque work and put it in my car, continually on repeat. I have been soulfully singing en route to work, home, meetings, school carpool, more meetings…you get the point. I can hear myself getting more confident, developing the vocal “muscle memory” that will keep my involuntary nervousness under control. I noticed a significant difference at rehearsal tonight, although I admittedly was still more nervous than I would like. But, what I noticed even more was how this constant singing has become a soulful prayer, an eternal echo of my soul’s longing to see and feel and experience the divine in all things.
Domine Deus, Agnus Dei, Filius Patris, qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis
Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father, Thou who takest away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.
Today, as I drove through city streets and waited at traffic lights, my soul and voice reached out in longing for divine mercy. I sang as I passed impatient drivers, people standing on street corners, those begging for change and those lost in thought. This world is full of busy, full of fast-paced moving without deeply connecting. It is also full of longing, craving a genuine experience of divine grace to fill in the cracks of our human brokenness. I find these moments of peace and grace keeping me centered in the midst of my hectic days. And they will tomorrow, and the next, and the next. I am allowing these words to become me, to flow from me. They are my litany of advent activity, the song of my soul as I travel through my world. Perhaps that is where this song needs to be sung after all.
In this song, I find deep peace.