Friday, April 10, 2015

TIGF - Six Years of Music

I haven't done a "Things I'm Grateful for Friday" post in awhile, but wanted to today about a singular topic.  This weekend, something that has been a huge part of my life for the last six years, is coming to a close.  The Christian music group that Nate and I have been part of is hanging up it's hat.  This is something I'm actually ready for - but it doesn't make it any less bittersweet either.

Growing up, I attended the church that my mom actually attended her entire life.  When I was about eight years old I joined the children's choir and my days of being heavily involved in music ministry began.  Eventually I would become a cantor (song leader) when I was in high school and graduate into the adult choir where my parents were also members.  It was a very strong, very involved community and we loved everything about being there.  But then shortly after Nate and I got married a new pastor was put in place that pretty much tore down everything we loved about being there. They always say that you don't go to church for the priest, it's about the people, but pretty soon leadership decisions were made that just rubbed us the wrong way and one day in early 2009 something pretty significant happened and a bunch of us just decided we'd had enough and up and left.  

One of the people who had left was our beloved accompanist and choir director.  Shortly after the big incident, she invited a bunch of us, including myself and my parents, over to her house to play some music with her and her husband (a bass player) to just enjoy music again and have fun.  While there, she mentioned that a neighboring church had asked her to come play for masses and asked if she'd like to bring some singers with her.  Then she and her husband also thought that it might be fun to see if Nate would like to try his hand at being our drummer so he could be involved in whatever this was becoming with me.  He always wanted to play the drums from the time he was young, so he decided to give it ago. Somehow with 10 singers and a handful of musicians, a little music group was born. We sang at masses at that neighboring church twice that summer and then they asked us to come back into the Fall and Winter.

Pretty soon other area churches got word of what we were doing and asked if we could come to lead music for them as well.  As time went on we ended up with around five churches we were rotating between each month.  By 2012, we had established ourselves as a non-profit organization and decided we had enough funds saved up to record a CD - which was an amazing experience and a bucket list item for me.  

But by the time 2013 rolled around things were changing in our tight knit group.  Nate and I got pregnant with Oliver, several of our members started dealing with health issues (we're a range of ages from 23-80) and our intense busy schedule was leading to fatigue all around.  There is the thought that you're going to go to church each week anyway so what's the big deal?  Well, we haul all our own equipment to set up and take down, so that's an additional hour or more before a mass and then the take down after.  And we were rehearsing every Friday night.  I know Nate and I were getting very burned out, especially after I was pregnant and then once Ollie was born. Nate even took some time off for a bit because it was too hard when Ollie was a newborn for us both to be doing it.

The entire group took last summer off completely and had a discussion as a group that we'd try the next liturgical season again at a much more reduced schedule.  So we were down to only doing a mass once a month with rehearsals about twice.  And it did help feel less hectic, but it was still kind of a big to-do for us, we had to find babysitters for Ollie and there was always extra time involved in getting him dropped off or picked up or what have you.  Not to mention, while I'm blessed to be able to see Ollie during the workday over my lunch hour, I started feeling like I wanted to have all of my weekends more free to be his mom full time as much as possible when I'm not at work.  So I started to discern around Christmastime if it was in mine and Nate's best interest to continue with the group.

As fate would have it I wouldn't have to make that decision.  Our director took a new job in January that requires a ton more travel and she realized her time was precious as well, so she came to the group and said it was time to be done.  We had a schedule set through April and agreed to finish that out and then we'd retire.  So that final mass is tomorrow.

As I said above, it's bittersweet.  On the one hand, I have been more than ready for awhile to move on and like I said, was considering stepping down if we were going to keep going.  It will be so nice to have our weekends more free and to go to church when it works best for us and even start introducing Ollie to church as well.  On the other hand, this group is pretty tight knit, there are more family connections besides just myself and my parents, and we all feel like one big family, especially given what we all endured together six years ago.  And I'm not dwelling on it too much, but I realized the other day, this will be the first time since I was eight years old that I won't be singing on a regular basis, singing with a group, singing to anyone besides well, Nate and Ollie I suppose. I have always considered being a singer as a huge part of my identity, so this is strange.

But I'm giving myself permission to take a break.  I'm forcing myself to take a break.  I could go join any one of the choirs that are regularly at the churches we rotated between.  I'm sure any one of those churches would probably even let me be a cantor if I'd like.  But for my own health and well being I need a break.  I have lost a little of the passion I used to feel about singing, it's hard to admit that, but I think a break will do me good.  Next year I will look at joining another church choir or possibly even a community choir for something different.  But right now I need to just take a break and let myself enjoy my time with Ollie and Nate.  I'll actually have a whole separate post at some point about being more intentional with my time.

So anyway, the long and the short of the story is, even if I've got mixed emotions about the end of this journey, I'm still extremely grateful that it was part of my life for the last six years.  I'm thankful that Nate was able to be part of it with me and was able to live out his childhood dreams of drumming.  I'm thankful I crossed off a bucket list item and got to record a real live CD.  I'm thankful for the friendships and relationships we maintained with all of the people who left our old church with us and I'm thankful that these should hopefully continue, especially when one of them is Ollie's godfather.  I'm thankful we were able to touch so many lives while we did something we loved.

I am looking at it through the words of the very wise Dr. Seuss "Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened."  Onward to the next journey. 

(PS to my karaoke peeps, my singing break does not include karaoke, in fact, I might need some extra karaoke to make up for it!)
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