Monday, June 24, 2013

Uncomfortable Waving of Arms

At 35 years old, I have carefully crafted a life where I don't have to do things that I am not good at.

I count this crafting as one of my flaws. I should be doing things that are scary. I should choose to do things that I am not as experienced with.

But I'm comfortable with my set of skills and my world.

Last night, I got a text from the ward choir director that he wasn't going to make it today and that I was going to need to conduct the choir.

I don't conduct. I am very comfortable assisting--making copies, running warm-ups, teaching parts. But I am really uncomfortable conducting music. I don't have the foggiest clue how to conduct music. Well, I can conduct sort of. But choirs require finesse and skill. They require starting and stopping. I just don't feel comfortable conducting the choir.

But I did it. And the choir was merciful and kind. They followed me despite my random wavings. The accompanist did a great job. Everything was lovely. The choir sang all 7 verses of the hymn, "A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief", in honor of the martyrdom of Joseph Smith and Hyrum Smith on June 25, 1844. Just before they died, they sang this hymn. So we sang it today. It started with one solo--sung beautifully by Travis Hyer. Then another tenor joined in.  The first verse finished with all of the men singing together. Every verse was a little different. At the end of the song, men and women sang in unison.

I was so pleased with how it went.

Years ago, I had this moment where I stood at the Mississippi River and imagined all the people who had crossed the river. All the pioneering women and men, standing at the edge of that river, imagining the future.  And there I was, returning from that future, standing on the same shores, looking at the same mighty Mississippi.

Today we experienced the same soaring melody and heard the same words that the brothers Joseph and Hyrum heard just before they died.

I waived my arms around. I did something I wasn't comfortable doing. And everything worked like a song.

Maybe I should do things I'm uncomfortable with more often.

Today I'm grateful for music, Joseph and Hyrum Smith, and opportunities to do things that feel scary.

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