Music is most definitely a part of my soul, one of those integral elements in my person that makes me tick. And happy music can certainly be a spirit booster when I’m feeling down. Sacred happy music generally has a doubly-good impact. As much as I had been dreading tonight’s choir rehearsal, it was exactly what I needed to boost my heart & soul. I learned today that a good friend’s father passed away this week. And this coming Monday marks the anniversary of another friend’s death. Though the deceased are in a much better place, being at peace and without pain, my heart aches for all who have been left behind in the wake, having to deal with that hole in their lives.

Every Sunday, I miss my friend, as he stood near me to play bass, and always greeted me with a cheerful smile and warm hug, and he called me “Beautiful.” Our current bass player is more than welcome, and I’m thrilled to share a music stand with him; but it’s just not the same. This weekend will be challenging, as I relive the loss. But every day it gets a little easier, a little less painful. It also helps that our choir is singing some very beautiful songs, and our closing song will certainly rock the house – bass and all.

During rehearsal tonight, I was rather distracted, my heart aching for my friend in her grief. Plus, it’s been a very long week at work, and I’d had to put more time in this evening than I’d anticipated, which meant I was late for rehearsal. But I persevered, stumbling through the chords of the first couple songs on my guitar. Then it was time to sing the psalm, which I am cantoring at the Masses this weekend. I did fine until I got to the last verse to sing of “the fatherless and the widow,” and it was about all I could do to finish. But I did finish, and we moved on, and each song got a little bit easier. Our communion song is a rendition about The Beatitudes (Blest Are They), which often makes me cry anyway. But tonight, it gave me a little bit of peace. When we finally got to our closing song, Blest Be the Lord, I was smiling again, and not faking it either.

The rehearsal continued with some songs we’ll be including in upcoming liturgies, particularly as we’re preparing for the Advent and Christmas seasons that will be here all too soon. Every song we sang is beautiful in and of itself, as anthems of our faith. But when you put it all together, with our voices (often in four-part harmony) and the guitars (as many as seven when everyone plated) and the flute and oboe, it’s truly a joyful chorus, which was exactly the balm I needed to settle my spirit.

Yes, the Masses will be challenging, but “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” And I’ve been really touched by a few songs I’ve heard on The River lately, ones that are speaking to my heart in a way I don’t recall ever experiencing before. Today I heard a couple: “Jesus, Friend of Sinners” by Casting Crowns opens with words of harsh truth…

Jesus, friend of sinners, we have strayed so far away
We cut down people in your name but the sword was never ours to swing
Jesus, friend of sinners, the truth’s become so hard to see
The world is on their way to You but they’re tripping over me
Always looking around but never looking up I’m so double minded
A plank eyed saint with dirty hands and a heart divided

Oh Jesus, friend of sinners
Open our eyes to the world at the end of our pointing fingers
Let our hearts be led by mercy
Help us reach with open hearts and open doors
Oh Jesus, friend of sinners, break our hearts for what breaks yours

And if that didn’t get me crying quickly enough, there’s “Live Like That” by Sidewalk Prophets…

Sometimes I think
What will people say of me
When I’m only just a memory
When I’m home where my soul belongs

Was I love
When no one else would show up
Was I Jesus to the least of those
Was my worship more than just a song

I want to live like that
And give it all I have
So that everything I say and do
Points to You

If love is who I am
Then this is where I’ll stand
Recklessly abandoned
Never holding back

I want to live like that

And so I will do what I can to live like that, to be the light I was made to be. Knit On.