These past few weeks have been busy with a college and a high school graduation in our family. It’s been filled with family visits, and missing those who couldn’t traverse the ups and downs of the hills of life (and route 65) to be with us during this momentous month.
Along with my kids earning higher degrees, I felt like God had a few lessons for me to acquire as well. I realize I have been experiencing a kind of “praying-in-the-busy-season-boot-camp” these past few weeks, grasping for prayer time, quiet moments and most of all, focus.
As I drove down the road past town, I felt that familiar, undeniable pull. Come to me…
I pulled up in front of the church in a state of self-pity and frustration with the desire for deep prayer which had been alluding me, for which I blamed our busy schedule. During spiritual direction the day before, I was reminded of a credo (of sorts) we maintain, that we shouldn’t be trying to fit Christ into our lives, as much as attempting to have him live through us. I hadn’t been doing very well with this but I was about to get a little spiritual practice.
Teary and sorrowful, I entered the mostly-empty narthex of the church, only to encounter a few young music students carry instruments to and from a hallway that I had never before noticed. I entered the sanctuary, bowed to the altar and then made a quiet, solemn entry into the French doors of the day chapel. Kneeling before the monstrance which held my beloved; Jesus Christ–body, blood, soul and divinity–I whispered my usual greeting…”Dominus Est!” It IS the Lord!
Trying to focus with reverence, I felt as though a huge chasm had opened before me. I couldn’t think at all anymore. It was like someone had taken the needle of the record, and put on a different soundtrack, altogether.
A voice lesson was taking place in the sanctuary. Since I had worked in the church years before, I knew these kinds of situations were unavoidable, and necessary to prepare the music liturgy. But now? Right now? Please, Lord. I need you so much right now. I am starving. I am in the desert…
What sounded like an exercise to reach the very tops of the vocal range commenced. For the next five minutes I knelt wide-eyed in the chapel, unable to think or pray. Screaming, sliding, loud, cat-like noises were apparently needed to engage the highest level of the vocal range. I didn’t doubt their effectiveness, but now? I begged “Please Lord! I need quiet with you!”
…I stared into the center of the monstrance, trying to invoke my “Bolt” stare, while entreating the Lord for silence.
He didn’t give it to me.
Mark 12:33 jumped into my heart…
“…to love Him with all your heart, with all your understanding, with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself…”
Leaving the chapel shortly after, vocal exercises still in force, I retreated to my car. I felt like an athlete must feel after the marathon she had prepared for just ended, only to realize she didn’t have the strength to complete her race.
Later, after I realized that God was trying to advance me a level. He wanted so much to help me move my tassel for this new level of spiritual focus. I understand now that I have not been giving Him everything I’ve got; not ALL of my strength.
I drove home, thanking God for the lesson, and singing. I even practiced some cat-screeching vocal exercises now my car, which actually helped me reach the upper parts of my vocal range.