It seems a fitting day to publicly acknowledge a recent way that I have said yes to God. Another step along my conversion journey. I am planning to record an album, a little music CD.
I did some recording long ago, when I was writing songs left and right. And I've thought about the prospect of recording again from time to time. But this possibility arose afresh in my mind on Christmas Day last year, amidst a discussion with a friend about digitizing old cassette tapes. I'd long been concerned that the music I recorded in my younger days, all on cassette or giant reel-to-reel, would soon become unplayable, but I hadn't known where to turn with it. I turned to the business my friend mentioned, and then got to talking with said business owner about my dormant idea of recording new music.
It was fun to think about it, but I didn't think too much of it. When I was asked to sing for my daughter's club, a few unexpected powerful moments with my guitar in an "empty" church sent sparks flying in my soul. That led me to writing a new song, something I hadn't done in 16 years. Something was coming to life in me, and I had to start paying attention. I wrestled. I had a premonition, a sense of something a little scary calling my name. I prayed for clarity. Then it turned into a fight. I fought in my heart with why this should possibly be a good idea. It got to the point where peace was elusive, and I saw I had to face and answer whatever this was that was asking for a resolution, even if it was a little scary.
My mind told me that recording more songs was not necessary. It costs money. It's just me. More songs are not going to make any difference in the world. Why should this matter. What's the necessity here.
A tiny little peep in my heart spoke up and said I'd really like to do this. But "liking" didn't hold much sway, faced with all the rational reasons. Yet I had no peace. My husband and I discussed a budget, one of the foremost rational reasons staring me down. And yet I told him I knew there was something blocking my way, something I was needing to address before I could conclude what I needed to do.
Then I had one of the weirdest days in recent years.
It was a Tuesday. My children and I headed off to daily Mass at Franciscan University, and I was feeling scattered and distracted by this unresolved question in my head. I also felt just generally weak and unsure and needy. Before Mass began I asked the Lord again, a bit brusquely, what this insistent question in my soul was all about. Suddenly I remembered a time about a year ago when I similarly felt a strong, compelling call from God to do something. In that case, it was to invite a certain priest to our house for dinner. This isn't something I do easily, and it took considerable courage and about two missed opportunities. The intensity of the tug in my soul to do this was undeniable and unusual. And as it turned out, after embarrassing-to-me rounds of telephone tag, the priest ended up leaving town (he was here on sabbatical) and we never had that dinner. So, in my prayer (with just a hint of accusation) I reminded the Lord of that occurrence. I was so sure I had to do that then, Lord, and what ever became of that?!
About 20 seconds later, the entrance procession began, and that very priest, whom I'd neither seen nor spoken to nor thought of for almost a year, walked right passed me. It was a Twilight Zone moment. But somehow it still felt completely predictable, considering this is my life we're talking about. I didn't really even snap-to until I heard him reading the gospel:
Do you not yet understand or comprehend?The message seemed very clear to me. I had met that priest and been moved enough to invite him to dinner in the midst of a lot of powerful things God was doing in my life. God does things. He calls. He asks us to follow. Get it? He was saying.
Are your hearts hardened?
Do you have eyes and not see, ears and not hear?
And do you not remember,
when I broke the five loaves for the five thousand,
how many wicker baskets full of fragments you picked up?”
They answered him, “Twelve.”
“When I broke the seven loaves for the four thousand,
how many full baskets of fragments did you pick up?”
They answered him, “Seven.”
He said to them, “Do you still not understand?”
I was very stunned by this occurrence, so of course I came home and posted about it on Facebook. (I just love Facebook.) I was writing while in the midst of making and eating lunch. I had just finished writing about this and began eating my lunch (I feed myself last) when my son burst through the door from playing outside, calling me to come quick because there was an emergency. A woman had fallen and was having a seizure.
I was still a bit dazed and scattered, but because it was my son prompting me I grabbed my coat and followed him to where he had been playing. There, down a hill away from the road, lay a woman, seizing. I went down to her, asked, somewhat unnecessarily, if she needed help. I called an ambulance, the called the woman's home with the number she provided. And then I stood there. The woman was saying she couldn't breathe well, and couldn't see. Every once in a while she started seizing again. I stood there. A neighbor came running down the hill (my son the extrovert told everyone what was happening), began to talk to the woman (whom she recognized as a former neighbor of hers), helped her with her dog she'd been walking, and chatted with her. Another neighbor, a nun, came running down the hill and began to comfort the woman, talking with her. The ambulance arrived. The paramedics began working on her. I was still standing there. The Sister announced that the woman was in good hands and began to leave, so I thought I'd leave, too. My son and other kids who had gathered were farther up the hill, and the neighbor began congratulating me (and my son when I mentioned it was he who found her) on saving her life. Everyone seemed very relieved. I stood there some more. Then I walked home.
One thing deeply disturbed me: I had absolutely no emotional reaction to this happening at all. All the while I was there with the woman, it was as if I was waiting for a bus. I felt no panic and sensed no emergency and no danger at all. The woman's elderly mother called me a week later to thank me, and said the woman had suffered a concussion and two hematoma, along with her seizures, but was better. Other people pointed out to me that my son had not seen her, since she was in a secluded area, she might possibly have died.
By the time I picked up my husband that evening, I was well aware that my ability to react with a normal adrenaline rush was skewed. I knew that I had been impacted, but the normal flow of my response was stuck somewhere. I sensed it was due to erupt sometime later. It was like witnessing "live" what I'd known in my head about my tendency to not process my emotions. It was disturbing and strange. But I told my husband during dinner, "I know this has something to do with this music thing."
That night I went to choir rehearsal, and I joked with my friend, who noticed I didn't seem normal, that I was experiencing PTSD. Still laughing, I told her, "actually, I'm serious, and it's not funny." After rehearsal finished she asked me about what happened, and I began to tell her about the seizing woman. "I just stood there," I told her. "Oh, you didn't know what to do." she said. I started to tell her, no, I knew exactly what to do... My next honest words would have been "It was a traumatic situation, so I clamp the panic tight and suck it down deep, far away from me." But instead, all the clamps began to burst in my soul, and I ran out of the church. By the time I got to the doors, I could barely walk, could barely breathe, and I began sobbing. I made it to my car, and hyperventilated there for a good long while. I managed to drive home, and sat in the driveway and hyperventilated some more. I went inside, ran upstairs and flopped on my bed. My husband came in, and I began to explain what had just transpired. As he held me, I completely went to pieces. The next day my lungs hurt and my body ached from hyperventilating and shaking. I scared my husband pretty good, too. It was as if every traumatic thing I'd ever experienced but never felt was erupting out of the place in which my body had held it, in hopes I'd forget they happened.
It's an intuitive leap to fit this together with my decision about the recording, but a few days later I could see that while the world may not need to hear my songs, I need to sing them. I need to record them and go through what it will take to do so. I'm thinking of calling the album (albumette, really) Unleashed, because it is about living in the healing that God has indeed given me in Christ. It is about embracing the fullness of who God has made me, the fullness of His redemption, and leaving behind cutting off and turning aside and squashing down aspects of my own humanity that I find difficult to deal with.
I am excited about this. If you are so inclined, please pray for me and everyone who will be involved with this. One lesson I faced early on is that I can't pull this off alone -- recording no less than on-going conversion and healing! I would appreciate your partnership in praying this into being. I'll keep you all posted on the progress!