Saturday, February 10, 2007

Comfort and Carefreeness

On Wednesday (the same day I wrote about "almosts" and "at leasts"), I got an email from Peter, who shall until further notice be referred to as . . . Peter. He asks interesting questions. The one he asked that day was for an image that would show what gave me "the most comfort and carefreeness."

That was a tough one. Sometimes I feel comfortable--or comforted--but I was hard-pressed to come up with anything during which I ever feel carefree, exactly. I was about ready to settle for a photo of my family and me having dinner at an Afghani restaurant. We joke in my family that the only pictures we ever get of all of us together involve us sitting around a table with food on it--and one of us always has his or her eyes half-closed. This is one of those kinds of pictures, and I thought it would do the trick because I do feel at ease with my family, and I love eating food from other locales, particularly with them. But I don't actually have that photo yet, so I shut down my computer and started getting ready for work.

As I was engaged in this activity, I became aware of the fact that a Kirk Franklin song was going through my head. As the realisation dawned, it kind of took me back to when I used to be in Gospel Choir in college. I started humming one of the songs we used to sing there, instead. The choir is having a 20th anniversary celebration/reunion in April. I can't go to it, but I can remember stuff even though I'm staying here.

I remembered singing with my eyes closed and my hands raised and clapping so much my palms cracked, even though I had never attended particularly demonstrative church services before that (though I did afterwards).

I remembered feeling like my friends and I--mostly White given the demographics of the college, but also Black, Latino, and Asian--were imaging Heaven a little bit, all standing and clapping and dancing our love to Jesus, looking at His face. After I had graduated and been away from that for a year, I went back and attended a concert. The choir alumni were invited to sing with the rest of the choir--a song called "Omnipotent." I wrote a sonnet about it, which wasn't very good but demonstrates how I felt about it and went like this:


With great and goofy grins, we craned around
To see each others' faces. Joyful, sang
To the Omnipotent, and while the sound
(Echoed of shell and stage and rafters) rang
Throughout the Chapel, still we smiled, for there
We were who'd travelled, laughed, and learned the Love
Omnipotent together. In the Here
And Now, however, where we live and move
And moving means we must leave some behind
To praise in othere Wheres, the singing's not
Complete; geography (at least) divides
The Church, and Holy's hid. But when He's brought
Us to His presence, we'll be all, not some--
Still grinning singing all together Home.

And then it hit me.

This is when I feel the most "comfort and carefreeness." This is where I feel the most grateful to God in spite of all the stuff. This is where swearing just doesn't even seem remotely appealing. This is where I feel in community--and in communion with God: singing truths about Him with a bunch of other brothers and sisters, especially through Gospel music. I know it's not just college-nostalgia, because though I don't make it to Gospel choir concerts very often, when I do, if there's a hint of true love for Jesus there, I feel the same sense of--well, "comfort and carefreeness" every time.

Most of the time, I'm pretty self-conscious about my singing. I can harmonise, but my voice is weak and unfortunate. I have rhythm but absolutely no coordination, so I don't dance very well. But put me in a Gospel choir and I forget all that. I belt out the music as loud as I can (which still isn't very loud, but it stops mattering), and I sway and clap and dance. I am part of this great God-worshiping organism, and God is more than enough.

This (part of a sign I made advertising one of our concerts one year) is the image I ended up sending.


revjas said...

I've never sung in a 'Gospel choir,' but I'm with you on this. Sung worship has got to be the greatest, most fulfilling, most satisfying, most comforting, most self-forgetful, best perspective-correcting experience there is!

I'm also sorry I forgot to send you another (working) photo CD. (Just as well.)

Heather said...

I like the poster and the feelings you described in the worship situation. :)

(And thanks for stopping my my blog last month...)

Jenn said...

Dad--you did send me a working CD. But that photo was (conveniently?) not on it.

Heather--thank you for visiting mine as well!

L.L. Barkat said...

I love to sing. In a group. Alone. Outside in secluded places. There is just something miraculous about song.

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