Bach gave us God’s Word. Mozart gave us God’s laughter. Beethoven gave us God’s fire. God gave us music that we might pray without words.
~ author unknown
Last year, I was walking down the hall of Brooke’s integrated preschool after a team meeting. I was hurrying off to work when I nearly bumped into a mom taking her daughter to class.
She was pulling her in a wagon that contained far more than just the little girl. She had what appeared to be some kind of breathing apparatus, its various tubes snaking out of the wagon in different directions. Whatever space would have been left was filled with a coat, a scarf, mittens and a backpack.
As they passed, a mitten fell out of the overstuffed wagon. Without a moment’s hesitation, the mom, whom I had never met, asked me to grab the stray mitten. She didn’t stop moving or wait for me to catch up, but continued on her way and nonchalantly added, “Just throw it in the wagon. Thanks.”
Of course I did what she had asked, and she went about her business without looking my way again.
It was a small interaction; surely one that she never gave a second thought to. But that tiny moment of grace is still with me four seasons later. The ease with which she had solicited my help took me back. I was in awe of the way she had approached a total stranger and without a second thought, asked for a hand when she needed it. Surely, there was a huge lesson in this for me.
Ever since childhood, I have been annoyingly independent. “I do it myself,” I told my parents as they offered guidance and assistance. I have always been bound and determined to take care of myself. To this day I remain hell bent on ‘doing it myself.’ I can just see my husband’s smirk as he reads this. Yuck it up, babe.
But once in a while, the wagon spills over. Sometimes, we all need a hand.
Like her older sister, Brooke loves music. When she sees a live band, she makes her way into the middle of it. She stands in the center of the instruments. She comes alive with the sounds and the vibrations. When she hears singing, she joins in, whether or not she knows the words.
Katie has been singing in our children’s choir for a little over a year now. She loves it. She loves the singing. She loves performing for the congregation. She loves being with the other kids. She sings the songs in the car and Brooke sings along.
I cannot think of a better way for Brooke to feel like a part of our congregation than by singing with the choir.
It won’t be easy. There’s a lot going on. The choir director is ambitious. She likes to choreograph movement and orchestrate complicated arrangements. The littler kids tend to get confused. Even Katie doesn’t always remember what part she’s supposed to be singing or where she’s supposed to be standing at any given time. It can be loud. It can be chaotic. It can be confusing and unpredictable.
But Brooke wants to sing. So sing she will. I brought her to her first rehearsal last week.
She needed breaks – a lot of them. She cried out a couple of times when she was overwhelmed. We walked the halls. We got fresh air. We came back.
She walked up to kids, got a little too close and said, “What’s your name?” over and over again, often while they were singing. Not one of them ever answered her.
She covered her ears when they blew a train whistle that will be part of the song. One little boy looked over at her with a furrowed brow.
When we left, I asked if she liked singing with the other kids. “Yes I did.”
I asked if she’d like to do it again. “Yes I would.”
I turned the question on its head and asked it seven ways to Sunday. No matter how I phrased it, the answer remained the same. She wants to do it again.
The choir director sent the following e-mail today.
I would like everyone to come a bit earlier this week. Jess will be talking to the kids for the first 5-10 minutes about Brooke, our newest choir member. Jess will explain a little bit about who Brooke is and why her behavior is sometimes different than the other choir members. She feels it would be easier for everyone if they knew a little bit about what to expect.
This isn’t a wagon that I can pull alone.
I am so glad that the mom at the preschool helped to show me that I don’t have to.