For about six years, I produced a monthly newsletter entitled “The Voice” for the tiny congregation at St. Christopher’s Episcopal Church. I included a message from the vicar, parish news with photos, a calendar of birthdays and anniversaries, happenings around the Anglican communion, and a children’s puzzle pages. And I generally wrote my own meditation of the sort that has made keeping a blog so seductive an occupation. I produced the bifold pamphlet without the aid of a desktop publishing program, cut and arranged the pages, ran them off on pastel paper with our photocopy machine, and folded, stapled, stamped, and mailed them. It was a gift-based ministry that gave me much satisfaction.
My other, even more meaningful task at St. Christopher’s was music. I selected the weekly hymns and praise songs, printed them on music inserts for the bulletin, and then made the music for Sunday worship services; I played the keyboard, accompanied by my dear friends Gaynell on the guitar and voice, Carmie on the flute, and Belinda, who sang and sometimes shared her virtuoso skills on the flute for special occasions. The loving relationships we forged during our Wednesday evening music practice were made sweeter still by our shared love of music and its place in worship.
Circumstances–or bad choices–forced me to leave my beloved family at St. Christopher’s in 2007, and in the ensuing ten years, I have never found a church so welcoming nor one that has allowed me to use my gifts in parish ministry.
The fault is partly mine, and it is that acknowledgment that led me to choose this somewhat circuitous approach to today’s word, voice. The name of my little newsletter is just a coincidence, really. But in the context of the Advent Word project, the word serves as a chilling reminder for me that I must not continue to live on the past. Writing and playing music and teaching–and even washing the coffee-hour dishes–gave substance and meaning to my life at St. Christopher’s. I know that I touched and sometimes even blessed the lives of others. But perhaps I was too fond of the tasks themselves, the notice I received, the satisfaction I experienced.
What I must do now has just this moment occurred to me as I prepare to write my peroration. Perhaps I am finally ready to listen, for I just now have realized clearly that participating in #AdventWord has given me all the guidance I need in order to discover my spiritual path ahead: Awaken, Focus, Prepare, Open, Embrace, Renew–and Heal.