Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The Lord Is My Shepherd

I played for a funeral yesterday.
I received a phone call from the pastor
asking if I was available
to serve as musician.

When I arrived at the church
I learned that the deceased
was an uncle
to two of the children that sing
in the children’s choir.
They are sisters.

I knew that he had been ill.
The girls sometimes
didn’t make it to mass
or to a rehearsal
because they and their mother
were caring for him.

They told me that their uncle
looked just like he always does,
only as if he were asleep.
I walked with them to the coffin.
They told me was 52 years old.

I asked them how their mother was.
They said she was fine,
But did cry every once in a while.
I told them that sometimes
it’s just a sad thing when someone dies.
even if they had an illness,
like their uncle did,
and we know that they are dying,
It still is sad.

It's sad for us
because we won't see them anymore.
we know they are in heaven.
But still,
we are saddened
that they have died.

They asked me
if I needed them to sing with me.
Of course,
I welcomed them.
But I told them to check with their mother first
as she might need them
to sit with her.
I told them
that sometimes it just feels better
if you have your people with you
during moments such as these.

The girls decided to sing.
But once I started the psalm
little Chelsea broke down.

The power of music,
the power of the psalm
Just amazes me,
“El SeƱor es mi pastor
(The Lord is my shepherd. . .)
I continued the psalm
and the child buried her face in her hands,
trembling as she wept.
During the second reading
I walked over to her
and just hugged her.
I asked her if she wanted to sit with her mother,
and she said, “no.”

She wanted to sing.
She needed to sing.
She knew that this
is where she need to be.

I don’t know
if I’m about to explain this
so that others can understand.
But herein lies the difference
between being a musician
who works for the church
and serving as pastoral musician.
This wasn’t just about
giving a hug to someone who needed it.
It was realizing
that little girl
knew full well
that music is her ministry
and despite life’s struggle and pain
she wanted and needed
to sing for this mass.
And I knew
that she also knew this.
Does this make sense
to anyone else but me?
You know,
It really doesn’t matter.
I understood well
What was happening.
And I am all the better for it.

As mass was finishing,
The girls walked through the door
and down the stairs of the choir loft.
Chelsea ran back up.
She said, “Bye, Rubi,”
and then started down again.

These may seem like incidental things
that I write about here.
I think these girls,
especially the one moved to tears,
committed themselves
to the music ministry
in a very special way.

The Lord IS my shepherd.
And it just thrills me
That you can say the same thing.

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