Singing Through It

Heres a thing about me that you should know. 

I like to sing. 

It’s like… essential. 

It’s how I process and express joy, sorrow, despair, frustration, anger, hope, happiness, peace, rest, playfulness, and encouragement. 

I can track friends by which songs they remember me by.

I wonder, in part, if that is why I chose to be a Bard in our roleplaying game. I tell stories and sing, as a character. I have created a character that is who I want to be. 

I miss singing with a congregation.

I’ve not sung with a group of people in over a year, and I can feel it in my bones. This, as much as the Lord’s Table, is communion to me. 

And I want to state, our church is beautifully mundane in it’s singing. We’re not going to go on tour, or have someone come record us for our brilliance, but we are a group of people who gathered to sing and worship and praise and have communion together. And I miss that.

Not so much some of the different navigations that I had to attend to. But that, the singing. The worship. The coming together and joining our voices in shared statements of what God is actively doing? 

I miss that so much. 

In my aborted procedure two weeks ago, I was trying to stand the level of pain I was experiencing, and so I started to talk to the women preforming the procedure about the sermon I’d preached a couple days previous. I almost started singing, to keep my mind off the pain radiating down my hips towards my knees and through my core. I rubbed my fingers in circles against my thumbs, and if anyone had been paying attention to the motion, it was in cadence with the songs in my head. 

I’m going to have a different version of the same procedure tomorrow… in an OR, under full anesthesia. It’s expensive (there goes our entire stimulus), and also I don’t look forward to being intubated, because I really really care about my voice, and how I sing, and that I can sing mostly any time I want. 

But I’d also rather not bleed so much each cycle that I have to make all my plans centered around whether that will be a lost day. And I’m ready to not bleed so much that my iron stores are dangerously low. But it’s womens’ health… so it took two years of bleeding like this to figure out how to work towards health, especially since I “look” healthy. (PS, y’all know weight is not an indicator of health, right?)

So I’ll rest, and pray, and sing tonight… and drink a full glass of water before bed, and rise, waiting, not especially ready, but prepared, for what I’m facing tomorrow. 

And tonight, when I sing my children their lullaby from Veggie Tales, (a surprisingly new tradition), I’ll sing it with all the heart I wish I could put into the song that I long to sing with a gathered community. 

But I don’t know how long it will be until it is safe to sing together again. Probably around the time we can share at the Table again. 

Hearts Formed and Unformed

Trigger warning: Pregnancy loss

Three years ago, today, John and I lost our first child to miscarriage.

Nothing prepares you for this kind of loss. It unravels you. After the fact, we learned that at least a quarter of pregnancies end in miscarriage, but no one talks about it, so no one knows. I didn’t tell more people outside of immediate family than I could count on one hand for over a year.

It was the continual questions of, “Is this your first?” when I was pregnant with R that hurt the most. How are you supposed to respond? Do you throw metaphorical cold water over the conversation by saying, no, but there’s not a living kid? Do you grin and grind your teeth?

I was pregnant two Mothers Days in a row but only had one kid on the way.

I had a meeting to go to that night, and I was not sure what was going on, and so I went to the meeting and the only thing I could think about the whole time is, “I think I’m losing my baby.”

The next day, I had a transvaginal ultrasound while the technician spent the entire time speechless. And then I went into the exam room to wait for the doctor and she came in and said, “so you know what’s going on,” and no one had told me, and she went into an explanation of what Down’s Syndrome is… No. I needed someone to tell me I had miscarried, to just tell me and let me sit with it for a little while.

I don’t think it was Down’s. Something just didn’t stitch right. Her heart could not beat. And we lost our child.

I named her Sarah Grace. I’m still learning grace through this experience.

Don’t tell me it was God’s plan. Don’t tell me I should just be grateful for my Rainbow baby. I know this can be uncomfortable, but sometimes you simply need to sit with someone in their grief whether you have experienced the same thing or not, and hold the space of their grief.

The first trimester of my second pregnancy I don’t think I really ever relaxed. I couldn’t write the cheery letter to my firstborn like the one I wrote in the week I knew I was pregnant with Sarah Grace. I didn’t dare to dream until I heard her heartbeat the first time.

My parents, my husband, and I stood around a stand of daffodils in our yard on the first anniversary of losing her and prayed a liturgy for pregnancy loss together. Sometimes other’s words help.

I’m healing, still. I encounter the grief when I think of her, when I remember the experience, when I hear of other women who have experienced the same kind of loss. It’s easier to deal with, to examine, to turn over in my head and consider how I’ve changed because of losing her.

Gradually, my heart mends. Every so often I’ll find a stitch that slipped and needs to be worked back into the fabric of my heart. The patch remains, but I become more whole.

Life is a very strange thing. It’s tenuous. So many things have to come together in the right way to create a life. But those around us can seem so strong sometimes that we forget the frailty under the surface. We forget the careful knitting that was necessary to form our inward parts and bring us into being.

I pray for hearts formed and unformed.

I pray for hearts broken and healing

I pray for hearts joyful and grieving.

I pray for hearts questioning and certain.

I pray for your heart and for mine.

~~~ ~~~ ~~~

This prayer by Rev. Karen Westerfield Tucker from “A Service of Hope After Loss of Pregnancy” found in The United Methodist Book of Worship (p624) helped me heal. I offer it to you if your heart needs healing.

Lord, we do not understand why this life, which we had hoped to bring into this world, is now gone from us. We know only that where there was sweet expectation, now there is bitter disappointment; where there were hope and excitement, there is a sense of failure and loss. We have seen how fragile life is, and nothing can replace this life, this child, whom we have loved before seeing, before feeling it stirring in the womb, even before it was conceived. In our pain and confusion we look to you, Lord, in whom no life is without meaning, however small or brief. Let not our limited understanding confine our faith. Draw us closer to you and closer to one another. Lay our broken hearts open in faith to you and in ever greater compassion to one another. So raise us from death to life; we pray in Christ’s name. Amen.

Exactly…

I need you to be ok with me exactly as I am. I’m not going to radically change in the next five minutes, so who I am is who you have to deal with.

This is me: all my faults, past mistakes, recent failures, tears I’ve shed and held back.

This is me: celebrations, dances, joys, cheerful memories, laughs I’ve shared and contained.

This is me.

Do you see me? Do you see my scars? Do you see my healing?

Do you see me limping or skipping? Your perception is based on interpretation anyway.

Do you see how far I’ve grown and how far I have come from that one time we know about? (Or those six times?)

Do you see what I could be? Where I could go? What I could do?

And if you do, are you only going to accept me once I get there—wherever there is—or can we work at accepting each other right now, in this moment?

I’m working at meeting you exactly where you are, right now.

I’m learning to accept you exactly as you are, right now.

I’m living into loving exactly who you are, right now.

I don’t know what the future has in store for us, but if we see each other as we really are, right now, I imagine that our future together will be all the brighter.

We will have hidden less from each other.

I want to hide less from you. But I don’t always know if you would accept me for who I am, who I really am, when the bright lights shine and all our masks are shattered.

I want to be exactly me when I am with you. No pretend, no pretense, no pretension. No make believe, no deception, no grand claims.

Only me. Scars, hopes, and all.

Only you. Scars, hopes, and all.

If we see each other for who we are, exactly as we are right now, we see truth.

I love truth.

 

I wrote this reflection as a response to my thoughts engaged with this poem.

Love Is

love is

love is letting your daughter play in the waves.

love is holding your granddaughter while your daughter watches for her favorite animal in the whole world.

love is holding a strawberry half while the other is smeared on your legs.

love is letting your daughter stay with you while her husband is away so that the one year old doesn’t wear us all out.

love is…

love is being heartbroken over the news.

love is standing with those who are hurting.

love is choosing your words wisely.

love is letting your actions speak louder than your words.

love is finding actions that can speak.

love is working to bring peace.

love is…

love is reaching out, not shutting off

love is taking risks.

love is stretching past boundaries and breaking down walls.

love is being uncomfortable

love is.

if God is love, then Love is: past, present, and future.

Love is. Love has been. Love will be.

love is stronger than I can be under my own strength.

love is hard.

love is strong.

love is tender.

love is difficult.

love is powerful.

love is.

love is all that some people have left.

love is the only thing that some people are missing.

love is bigger than any of us can imagine.

love is more intimate than anything else in the universe.

love is what we need to heal.

love is what shows us what is broken.

love is what we hunger for.

Love is.

Prayer to Thrive

God we draw near to you today in faith and trust. Make your presence known to us as we receive your word through all our worship. As we gather, we pray for the people of this church, that as we learn to thrive emotionally, we will be open to granting and receiving the support we need to live wholly in you.

We give thanks for the ways that God blesses others through us as we are faithful givers to the mission that we support as a church. We pray for the people of the Charlotte area as we join together to collect food to fight hunger.  We pray for the people of this nation, especially the community of Flint, Michigan as they grapple with the injustice surrounding their water crisis.

We pray for the children of the world, for their safety and health in all circumstances, especially as their families leave homes torn by war.

As we draw close to you, heal us in body, mind, spirit, and relationship. Lead us to act as your people in all places and at all times.  Amen.