When I was in high school, and even into college it so happened that whenever my family had a party or cookout that my Dad would ask (well..."ask"...) my sisters and I to sing for our guests. Usually, after much reluctance, we would sing in four part harmony. We would sing anything- from songs that were currently playing on the radio to the "Hallelujah Chorus." As an introvert, I usually dreaded singing in front of a crowd. However, I did enjoy singing with my sisters, and listening to the beauty of an acapella four part harmony.
This past weekend, everyone from the parish staff at my church came over for the annual parish cookout at my father's house. This meant all of my co-workers, priests, nuns, deacons, and of course my own family. As soon as the last of the burgers had been claimed and the laughter had quieted, everyone turned their attention to the patio where my two sisters sat, prepared to entertain the guests.
They sang beautifully, accompanied by guitar. I sat at the picnic table with my husband and my son, hoping no one would urge me to join in- which of course they tried to do. I declined as gracefully as I was able and tried to be as inconspicous as possible.
As the tiki torches flickered against the darkness, and I listened to their voices charm the crowd, I could hear the two harmonies that were missing- that seemed to me to leave the song incomplete. I almost see her. See the four of us together again- and I felt my face warm and water fall from my eyes.
You see, I have a secret. I haven't sung since my sister died. I can go through my days normally- get up, coffee, work, pray, deal with the baby, deal with family, and everything is fine-
unless I am invited to sing with my sisters- or even sing in public. Once, I was flipping through channels on television and saw a family of Celtic vocalists singing and that was too much for me.
The only place I will sing is during Mass. I feel that while I am singing to my Beloved at the Eucharistic Table, I am united with her- that all of us are together again.
And sometimes, in those quiet moments during the Communion Meditation I can hear her- soft and gentle, weaving her voice in with the tapestry of voices from the congregation below. How good God is, to allow me this gift, especially in my unworthiness.