Sing Unto the Lord A New Song
Here's the memorable thing: it was in a bar!! A very gay-friendly bar/bowling alley, as a matter of fact.
But it was a huge, clean, super-funky, romantically-lit with red walls and loads of color, absolutely fabulous joint all decorated with Halloween goodies. People brought babies and children and it was just really cool. It was like a Den Of Iniquity for All Ages!
I joined this group a year ago at the request of its founder, and when he invited me to be part of it I told him that I'm a show tunes girl, not a bluegrass gospel girl. I said the whole idea of trying to sing in a new genre was intimidating but I would like to try it.
I took a tape recorder to our first rehearsals and practiced my harmonies in the car. I was nervous.
The music has become more and more a part of me. I even listen to it for FUN. A few gigs ago, I learned two numbers in the bathroom right before we went on (we don't have that many rehearsals to begin with, and I often have to miss the few we do have).
Tonight, though, I hit a new low (or high!): I learned two numbers while we were on stage performing them.
By this point, all I have to do is hear the first phrases and it's like, okay, I got it. Liz fed me the lyrics line by line and it was totally chill. I can sing soprano, I can sing alto, I can hear the harmonies so much more easily.
It's a little analogous to learning a new way to pray, or a new language for speaking about my religion. A few years ago, I spoke an entirely different language of faith. Or it would be more accurate to say that I didn't have one of my own. That was mighty frustrating. More than that: it hurt. Now, after some quality time steeped in Scripture, traditional Christian prayer and worship, phrases are in my mind, body and soul that may never leave. Images, stories and prayers from many traditions stay in my memory more easily than they used to and I find them far more readily available for worship preparation than they used to be. There was a time when in order to compose a prayer, I had to sift through a dozen books feverishly looking not for inspiration, but for confirmation that my own words could minister to my people.
Now, prayers just come. Opening words and invocations come so much more readily. The words to say at someone's bedside come more easily.
I even talk differently to myself.
I am aware of what's happening. I am very glad that I waited until I was a fully consenting, aware adult before I chose to hand myself over in this intimate way to the influence of the Christian faith. I am grateful that I had so many years' training in hearing and using religious language critically and from a "hermeneutic of suspicion."
I prepared myself for this indoctrination into Christian life and thought, and I even use the word "indoctrination" in its purest form, "to instruct in a body of doctrine."
It's fascinating to watch this relatively old dog learn all these new tricks.