The A Capella choir from our alma mater, Eastern Nazarene College, is a special choir to Jeremy and I for many reasons.
He sang tenor for the group.
I was a groupie.
Really, a groupie.
It seemed as if all of my friends in college were in this choir. I was a cheerleader. Since hearing my own voice is just shy of frightening for me choir just wasn’t the place for me. But I loved to hear them. Their voices. The melodies and four part harmonies. The basses. The altos. All of it-perfect.
I sat through many concerts and oohed and ahhed over the musical choices.
Since Jeremy was a music major in college he spent much time in Cove Auditorium, the music department building. That meant I did as well. This choir became a staple in our relationship. And even more important to him then it was to me, it was a meaningful time of worship, intellect, music, friends and eventually memories.
My daughters and I watched the tour bus arrive in our parking lot at four thirty one Thursday afternoon just a few short years ago. There is just something about a chartered bus full of choir members-a group who’s identity is ingrained in your being- from your alma matter that means something. It wasn’t simply a bus of students driving in to our parking lot that day. It was a bus full of memories. Memories of the naïve, vibrant, fully expectant young adults we were back then, now parking themselves next to our house. The bus brought with it the excitement of what it meant to serve God with our whole being. It brought with it the joy of growing into adulthood and independence.
Jeremy had had a very busy day that day. A day that would end in a culmination of a fourteen or so hour workday, with just thirty minutes off for lunch at home with me. The girls and I headed across the parking lot to have dinner with Jeremy, some of the other church staff members and the Choir before the concert that was scheduled for later that evening. We had a few minutes before dinner started so we slipped into the back of the sanctuary while the choir warmed their voices and found a spot next to Jeremy.
He was watching the choir just as my girls and I had planned on doing.
After a minute or so of spectating something that meant so much to him I leaned over and said “They look pretty young.”
He replied: “ Yeah, they’re letting any anyone into college these days.”
Toddlers they were. Couldn’t have been much older than four or five.
I said, “You know, that was us not that long ago.”
“Yeah. It was.” He replied.
We kept watching and listening.
Dinner was perfect. I expected nothing less. Some ladies in our church had put on a full , good ole’ central PA meal of meatloaf, potatoes, green beans, rolls, salad, and cake. It smelled so good and tasted even better. I sat with my friend Beth and my girls, as the students made their way to their seats, amongst comments of “This is the best!” and “Meatloaf!”. Yes, we made meatloaf. It seems to have perhaps been quite a while since they enjoyed a meal such as this.Jeremy had wanted it to be be an awesome experience for them, just like he remembered it was for him, back in the day.
The concert started at six thirty. It was beautiful as the students sang from their repitoire of classical, gospel, and secular songs. It was just as I remembered watching it so few years ago. I listened and looked around at other ENC grads who were present for the concert, and who were in the same choir, and I listened as they sung or hummed along with the music.
There is a camaraderie in that choir. One that doesn’t end. A shared memory with each other and the professor who’s been conducting this choir for many years.
At the end of the concert , as tradition requires, Prof, as he is affectionately known, invited all alums of the choir who were present to join in singing the song “My Times Are In Thy Hands”. Jeremy took his place among the tenors, like he had so many times before.
I watched him.
And I didn’t feel a day older than 18. Just like the first time I saw him sing in this choir. I watched him again and listened for his voice. And as I did, nothing else in the room mattered. Years of marriage passed before my eyes and I remembered the innocence with which we entered into marriage, owning no bed or car for the first three months-sleeping on the floor and borrowing my parent’s second car. With hardly a dime to scrape together, a job that challenged me to the core, and Jeremy still finishing up school, all while working and student teaching. The dreams we’ve shared, the struggles we’ve had, and the tears we’ve cried came rushing to my memory. The two little girls who call me mommy, who were a result of so very many prayers from others when we couldn’t pray ourselves, were sitting beside me.
The entirety of those years landed in front of me like a brick. I praised God for redeeming the struggles and sufferings. I praised Him for giving me a husband to lean on and grow with. I praised God for the joy of His goodness. I simply praised Him.
We came home that night and I kissed Jeremy in a brand new way. The way of a kiss that can only be understood after more than a decade of marriage.
Watching the choir that night refreshed me and resurrected in me something that had been asleep for too long. It awakened in me the newness of what it means to serve God with my whole heart. It awakened the me I was in college, with all of my hopes and dreams.
I realized at that very moment just how much God had been and continues to be with us on our life’s journey. There are some things I wouldn’t choose to walk through again, but without them I wouldn’t be who I am today. I wouldn’t know the power of prayer as I do today. I wouldn’t know God as I do today. There are some things I wouldn’t choose to learn again but without them I wouldn’t know Who I know today.