“So this is what you got to do because you didn’t go to Bible school.” Her words, halfway between a question and a statement, linger in my mind, like a pinprick of hope in the darkness now past.
I remember that discouraging day when I found out that I wasn’t going to Bible school this spring after all. I remember the confusion and frustration that followed. The “why God”s that I uttered, and the disenchantment I experienced. I remember saying that I just wanted to see a reason – something good that came from not going, something I couldn’t have had without that bitter experience.
I remember that miserable Monday and Tuesday filling out the SCMC application, with the definite thought, “if I can’t have what I want, I’m going to have whatever else I can get”.
Well, I got it.
If you can live a month in one short week, I think I just did. It certainly seems a month or more since I was teaching primary Sunday school and thinking how the teaching nerves were keeping down the “we are going to Music Camp in a few short hours” nerves. Yes. A month. Or maybe two.
How can I begin to describe all happened in that month-long week? The learning and growing and changing and enjoying. The singing (and singing, and singing and singing). The friendships formed, the laughter shared. The being silly and scared and vulnerable together and finding out that not only did we survive, we thrived. We grew. We loved. And all the hard work paid off.
I wish I could tell you all that this week meant to me, but I think you’d have to live it with us to find out. I could describe it all to you – the early morning theory class in which we learned so much about four-part harmonization and the “common practice era” which left us a wealth of wonderful music (and how we all despaired of our assignments and thought the whole course was over our heads, before suddenly finding out how much we had learned and that lots of it made sense now!). I could outline the chapel talks on worship, and the beautiful new songs from the cool new hymn supplement book (of which we now own a copy!). I could tell about Mixed Choir and Mass Choir, as well as all the choirs I wasn’t a part of. I could tell of the loitering in hallways, filling up water bottles at the cool but strangely malfunctioning water station (actually, I take that back – we had no time to loiter, but somehow we always exchanged a few words and a laugh or two at the water bottle station). I could tell about lunch and supper, and all the in between. I could tell about Voice Class (I really should tell you about that one) and the group of people who became friends through the vulnerably safe space in which we sang and made mistakes and critiqued each other and came out stronger and better and happier.
But I don’t think you would understand quite what the charm was.
We know. We who laughed hysterically over our warm up exercises and our inside jokes. (We DIDN’T laugh on stage, I promise you! Even after joking about it in the hallway right before going in to sing, we sang Bambelela with faces as straight as judges. You know who you are – and I’m proud of you.)
We know, who came as strangers and parted friends (oh, why do we have to PART as friends??? Why can’t we leave out the bit about parting?)
We know, who were indelibly changed by this short, memorable week, and left promising ourselves, “We’ll be back. We’ll see you next year. I’ll be bugging you to come – and you’ll be bugging me.”
If you want to know more, you’ll just have to join us next year and find out. I was going to try to tell you, but I can’t. I just can’t. I’m nowhere near the same person I was just eight days ago, and I have no words to tell of that transformation. Except in the words I murmured to my Class Voice teacher as I bade her goodbye yesterday, “I feel like I came into this week with ‘two talents’ and I’m leaving with five.” “Maybe you had five all along, and you just didn’t know it,” she replies with a smile. “Yes,” I can’t help but add, the tears rising to my eyes, “but you helped me find it out.”
And this is what I got because I couldn’t go to Bible school. How bittersweet the thought is. I don’t want to sort through its complexity and say I’m GLAD for the trial that formed such a treasure in me (see the song at the bottom of this post for the key to that sentence). But I do shiver a little to think of a life in which this last week did not have a place. I think of my new friends, and my new knowledge, and the burning eagerness to find out just what God wants from the five talents I now know He has given me. I can’t think it. I won’t.
As I move on into a future that can never be quite like the past, a prayer echoes in my mind – a song I was introduced to this week which will join the ranks of the songs of my heart. Here it is for you, and may it be true for us all in this “long passage” we’re called to walk. When “the midnight meets the morning”, I guess I’ll have an even fuller understanding of the reason why one blessing was exchanged for another – if I need it, after the week I’ve just spent.