[This dramatic new mini-series is introduced here.]
I know I'm not the only one out there who is leading a life that could only be described as hectic. (And some of you are ahead of me on the ole hectic-o-meter!) So imagine for a moment being given the opportunity to sit. With your partner. Without your children. And just listen. And think. For. An. Hour. About really interesting topics. Like forgiveness in your relationships, honesty in your marriage, the importance of having real dreams and working towards them, social justice. And hearing good music, and getting a chance to sing (something I love and haven't done much of in years), and even enjoying a quiet moment here and there. Ah, the quiet.
There is something about this combination of peace and quiet, a thoughtful sermon, and nice music that really gets me. Most weeks, the themes lead us to consider how we choose to spend our lives - looking at the bigger picture of the world and our impact on it - and this always fills me with emotion about my work. I feel so very lucky to have work that I love and that I can feel proud of; work that is having a positive impact on children and their families.
In the day to day grind, it's easy to get lost in the drudgery of paperwork and scheduling, or to worry about whether work is encroaching too far into my time with my family. But when I sit in church, I am given the time to be filled with elation for the kids who are suddenly making big changes; sadness for the boy we said good-bye to last week because he is moving; concern for another family going through a transition. I am very emotionally tied to these children and their families, and when I have this chance to sit and catch my breath, my feelings are overwhelming. For the most part, it's joy I'm feeling as I think about how amazing these kids are and how hard everyone is working to help them become their best selves.
Add to this some meaningful music, and I end up in tears nearly every week. I was already knee-deep in emotion after the sermon today and then the congregation sang John Lennon's "Imagine", and that was it for me. I couldn't even sing it.
Then we sang the beautiful "Siyahamba", a South African gospel song. ( Click here for a sound clip. Not of us, mind, you.) I love this song, having become familiar with it on the Dan Zanes Night Time album back when Baxter was about 2 years old (if you don't have this, run to pick one up!). Baxter's good friend Lucy (the one hugging him in the princess gown photo) claimed "Siyahamba" as her favorite song back in those days (do you remember this, Stacy??), and I remember watching her at the Dan Zanes show that year when they sang it, and tearing up at the time over her rapt 2-year old expression upon hearing this song performed live. Needless to say, I hate when this gorgeous song is part of our service at church because I can only cry at that memory, which then triggers the really big tears over missing Lucy and her family, these wonderful friends who are back in California.
Do you see where I'm going with this? By the end of church, I was a serious crying mess. And today wasn't the first time.
While this is somewhat embarrassing, I clearly need an outlet for all these feelings: for the children who are moving forward, for those who are struggling, for my own kids, for thoughts of our faraway loved ones. And I'm sure there were tears of stress in there somewhere, too.
And I guess what I'd venture to ask is, don't many of us need that? Couldn't we really, truly use a time that is set aside to sit quietly, listen to something inspiring and thoughtful, and be allowed to actually feel the full range of emotions that we experience in a sometimes-shallow way as we're running hither and yon each week? I mean, I love to hang out in my jammies with the kids as much as the next mom, but this is something I really need in my life.
This was the very first thing that I came to appreciate about going to church on Sundays.