Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Of Priesthood Blessings and Choir Concerts

The forward to "Life of Pi" says that it is "a story that will make you believe in God." Tonight, I gained one of those stories for my very own.

Tonight was the University Choral choir concert. At the beginning of the semester, I was not planning on being in Choral; however, I thought about it and prayed about it and decided that it was the right thing for me to do, even though it would put me up to 18 credits.

This means that tonight was a night I had been preparing for and working towards for an entire semester.

Only one problem--Sunday night I came down with a bad cold that made my throat ache and burn at the same time,  made me wish I could lie in bed all day eating chicken noodle soup instead of going to classes. Singing? Out of the question.

Monday night I was reading in the scriptures about miracles. I came across a passage in Matthew: "And Jesus went all about Galilee...  healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people." As I read that, a couple of things clicked.
a. Christ is really good at healing. Like, so good He kind of got a rep for it in His mortal life.
b. How many times have I heard it said that God wants to grant us our righteous desires?
c. I live within ten feet of five worthy Priesthood holders.
So all I had to do was get a Priesthood blessing and have some faith, and I would be healed to sing on Wednesday! I prayed to ask God how He felt about that plan. The feelings I got were very positive--yes, go for it, this is good, this is right. I asked two of my roommates to give me a blessing; I was blessed that I would be able to sing in the concert.

Two days later. I woke up this morning feeling a good deal better than I had the two days previous, but still not great. Yet, even though I could sing a few scales (very gently of course), I had one big problem--coughing fits. Periodically, throughout this entire day, I broke into massive coughing fits. These aren't cute little girly coughs, these are shake-my-entire-body-and-yours-too-if-you-stand-too-close coughs. The kind that make people duck for cover while they're walking down the hall.

I called my mom a little before noon to ask her opinion on my performing that night. She pointed out not only that my coughing fits could be hugely distracting to performers and audience alike, but that I might have been thinking about this the wrong way--not everyone gets healed. And that's not because God is lazy or spiteful, it's because He sees things more clearly than we do, and He knows what we really need. And sometimes what we really need is to get sick.

This was incredibly hard for me to accept. I had been working toward this night for an entire semester! I took 18 credits, devoted hours to practice and rehearsal every week, gave up things I would have liked to do, so that I could sing in this concert. And just like that, I was supposed to give it all up?

Well, yeah, if that's what God wanted. After a good 30 minutes on the phone with Mom, I resigned myself to not singing in the concert. I would buy a ticket and watch them instead. That way I would still be supporting the choir, even if I couldn't sing in it.

According to the syllabus for University Choral, the only way to be excused from singing in the concert is to talk to the director, Dr. Broomhead. Accordingly I went to our rehearsal 15 minutes early, accosted the director, and explained the situation. Then I asked if he still wanted me to sing in the choir.

"Does it hurt when you sing?"
"Then go ahead."
"Even if I start coughing?"
"If you cough in rehearsal, no problem, just step out until you stop. If you cough in the show... well, we'll just take our chances."

And so, just like that, I was singing in the show again.

The rehearsal was tough. As expected, I coughed. A lot. And couldn't really sing half of my usual range. I had to leave early to go to class, so I didn't get to touch base with Dr. Broomhead again until just before the show. As I walked in I asked one more time if he wanted me to sing, even if I started coughing.

"Yep! Just go for it!"

I ate a cough drop and prayed some more.

Here is where the miracle happened. From the moment I walked into the De Jong (pronounced De Yong) concert hall until I was already walking back to my dorm after the show, I did not cough once. Not only did I not cough, but I was actually able to sing! It wasn't the best singing I have ever done, but it was confident and powerful.

And oh, it was exhilarating. Performing in front of an audience--an audience that is rumored to have contained President Uchtdorf--was an experience I will not soon forget. Feeling the connection between myself, the rest of the choir, the conductor, and the audience was amazing. The new heights that we, the choir, rose to in response to the challenge of performing were awesome, inspiring. In between songs, I couldn't stop smiling a big, goofy smile.

And knowing that I was singing on a voice given to me by God, by the atonement of Jesus Christ, knowing that without a Priesthood blessing I would probably be sitting in the audience--way in the back of the audience so that my coughing fits wouldn't distract anyone--made it all the sweeter.


mom said...

Sounds like an amazing experience--you can call it the miracle of the Reprieve From the Coughing...

Lauren Fine said...

This was really similar to the experience I had my sophmore year of high school. I was sick the day of a concert that I had a solo in, but I got a blessing and was able to sing for the concert. The next day, I couldn't speak. :) Isn't singing in a choir one of the most amazing and humbling experiences you've ever had?

Jason said...

It really is! The thrill of being a part of something more than myself, of getting something--a song, a phrase, just one note even--exactly right... it's awesome :D

Collin said...

Wow, what an awesome experience Jason!! And I agree 120%! I only just started choir this year in high school (by sheer luck of getting into the audition choir) and it's been one of the most amazing decisions I've ever made! Music is one of God's great miracles! And to be a part of something so incredible is truly inspiring!