Saturday, February 28, 2009

Lenten Voices: Stepping out onto a cloud

by John Sutherland

I went to the evening service on Ash Wednesday. Everyone was aware that we had given up our organ for Lent. It's a coincidence, mostly. The organ needed to be down two weeks for repairs at some point, so why not now?

I'll be glad when that wonderful, quirky instrument is back, but I had no doubt we'd be okay, supported by the choir and all the quality voices that hold up this parish every Sunday.

In fact, one of my favorite moments, even when the organ is in good repair, is when it drops out.

Normally, this happens during a robust hymn with solid four-part harmony, during the third or fourth verse. Gary lets go of the keyboard and conducts from the bench with both hands, and the choir responds to the challenge with gusto. It's like we're stepping off the edge of the loft and onto a cloud that somehow supports our weight.

(Yes, I know: the incense smoke is so thick some times, it just might support us.)

But it's a wonderful moment. It's a very spiritual moment. It's filled with hope and promise, assuring us of the good things that will happen if we just step forward bravely, and sing.

John Sutherland has been a member of St. Paul's for twenty years. He is sometimes a member of the choir, has done time on the Vestry, and generally tries to bake enough communion bread to keep his hands from idleness.

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