Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Sing With Me

"O sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth! Sing to the Lord, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples." Psalm 96:1-3

Music, whether you are singing to it, listening to it or creating it, is pretty incredible-isn't it? I was home last weekend for a wedding (congrats to the happy couple!) and when I got back to Philly I realized how profound an impact music and song had on me last weekend and every weekend.

On Saturday I sat down on a pew next to friends as we were getting ready to watch two more friends get married. I looked down on the program and saw the song to be sung and my heart was happy. As I read the words and sang along, I instantly felt better-not that I didn't feel good before, but the song improved my already happy mood.

The following day I went to church for mass and I was most excited for the music. The CSC at Washington University has a top-notch band and choir, one that makes everyone want to sing along. My grandmother was next to me and we sang along in our not so top notch, yet beautiful in their own way voices. I looked to the choir and saw the raw joy in one of the choir members faces. I saw the confidence in another's sway as they sang along. No doubt about it, everyone in the choir was there because they liked it. Because music means something to them. That joy, that confidence, seeps into those listening. Enough to make us sing along no matter how good or bad our voices are.

I have a roommate who goes to church many times for the joy of listening to music. Another for the joy of singing. Church hymns and song lyrics provide a certain comfort that simply spoken words may not. I have been known to turn on my favorite song when I need a reminder that everything will be okay. There's a song for every type of mood, isn't there? Music to calm us down or pump us up. Memories, good or bad, are attached to certain songs. There is music for certain occasions that would be wildly inappropriate if played in another setting.

So what is it about music, or song that is so great? Surely there are songs in the world I could go without hearing (the majority of country songs), but what is it that makes music in general, so appealing? Have you ever heard someone say "no...I don't like music of any kind."? You would call them crazy, because we all have our own reasons for liking the music we like.

Sitting in the different pews this weekend it dawned on me. I like music because it brings people together to make something beautiful. Alone, my voice isn't so beautiful. Many people aren't blessed with my a good singing voice. But if you go into my church or any other that has people that excited about singing, you can hear it. You can hear the beauty of what joy sounds like. If you come into our apartment when our roommate is playing her guitar and singing, you can hear the comfort in her voice and the song she wrote.

Waking up Monday morning I read the devotional I get by email each day. Included was Psalm 96:1-3, quoted above. It asks us to sing, literally or figuratively. To show our comfort and our devotion to God. To show what His love has done for us.

How perfect? Alone our voices, whether sung or spoken, written or in action, may not seem like a lot. But if you sit back, close your eyes and listen to the praises and the joy in all of our voices together, something beautiful is heard.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

I am happy here.

My apologies for neglecting to post on here for too long! I tried to think of a good reason(okay, excuse) as to why I haven't been posting and I cannot think of one other than living in Philly has been totally different than I expected and I'm not quite sure how to put into words the experience I'm having. So let me back up to the last time I blogged and see if I can fill you guys in.

Last you heard I was on a bus with one of the women in the assisted living program that shares a building with the Parish. Not much has changed there, I still say hello to Ms. Elizabeth and I still take the bus each morning and night. If anything I am branching out more and more into the city and all its neighborhoods. If you didn't hear, Philadelphia is the NY Times' #3 city to visit in 2015 (thanks, Dad, for sharing the article with me!) and after living here for 5 months, I can see why! It has taken me a while but I really feel comfortable navigating around the city now. My parents came to visit in November and I think they were impressed by my navigation skills.

Since I've written last I have celebrated my first Thanksgiving away from home (something I was reluctant to agree to) and I have to admit-it wasn't so bad. I successfully cooked a turkey and stuffing and I celebrated with my three roommates by going to the parade in center city. We shared stories and traditions over a turkey dinner and I ended up being grateful for the experience-that being said, Kirkwood's Thanksgiving tradition still has my heart.

Also since you've last read, I have been home! I was blessed with two weeks home for Christmas and New Years-a time which went by WAY too fast but was just what I needed to be energized for this next half of my service year. I didn't quite realize how homesick I was was waiting to de-board the plane. As physically tired as I was after the two weeks of seeing just about everyone as I could, my heart was so happy and full. I actually felt ready to come back to Philly-which I was nervous being home would only make it harder being away longer.

Before going back to work all the volunteers from all the different sites came together for a midyear retreat in Ocean City, NJ-about an hour away from Philadelphia. A bunch of the previous volunteers raved about how great midyear retreat was for them but the entire time I thought 'who wants to go to the beach in January with 20+ people in one house?'-now I know why. It was SO great to see all the other volunteers and to just be present, in that moment, with the people who were serving different communities. I learned a lot about the different sites, how everyone was getting along and that I wasn't alone in some of the hesitations I had both about my current position and what is coming after this year is over.

Speaking of, I just turned in my first of many graduate school applications today! I have decided to apply to different schools for a Master's degree in Social Work. If this year has taught me anything it is that my heart is in social service (that may not come as a surprise to anyone). There's an odd sense of satisfaction when you realize where you're being called but aren't quite able to describe it to anyone. Or even yourself for that matter. I am happy to know I am moving in the right direction. I am happy I have options and I am happy that I have support from my friends and family even if they don't know how to describe what I want to do. Short answer-I want to help people.

My roommates and I are big quote people. Much of our dedicated prayer time is centered around different quotes because that is where we find comfort. One of my favorites lately is "Let yourself be drawn by the pull of what you really love. You'll be happy there. Promise." It was a pinterest find so I'm not sure who said it, but whoever you are, thank you. Thank you for the confirmation. Thank you for the confidence.

I really LOVE helping others, and truth be told, I think I'm damn good at it! So in the year ahead I have decided to have confidence in knowing that doing what I love is enough. While I could go CRAZY with trying to figure out the best option for a career is, I am trying to be calm and go with what I know. What I love.

(I also made a new year's resolution to blog at least once a month-hopefully I can keep to it!)