I wrote yesterday about the experience of sitting (during the homily – my bad) at Mass, distracted by watching my fellow choristers, and the overwhelming feeling of gratitude at the love that these incredible, flawed, wonderful people share. Their unconscious and beautiful actions of being God to each other – and to me.
Because here’s the thing: I’m included in that. So often, the knowledge that I dwell in the love of God – always, wherever I am, whatever I’m doing or distracted by – is intellectual. I live it, because it’s the reality by which I have my being, but it’s only by default. When I step into the choristers’ vestry, though – one of the few places I can be myself, uncsensored, completely at home – I step into that love. The people who surround me – who seem genuinely happy to see me, who greet me with a hug or a smile of welcome or a touch on the shoulder – can’t help but show me the love of the Creator of love: it’s who they are. The glory and the beauty of the Source of their being shines out and surrounds us all, encompasses us all.
There are times when I question my place in the choir; when I question my capacity to contribute, musically, socially, spiritually. When that over-critical, nasty, betraying little voice – that voice which likes very much to quote some of my ex’s favourite put-downs and criticisms – whispers to me that they’d all be better off without me, someone who sometimes can’t even make it through the demands of a service or even a rehearsal without the intrusion of symptoms of PTSD – flashbacks or panic attacks or the numb, quiet horror of dissociation – and who regularly and selfishly lets everyone else down.
I hate that little voice and its lies. I hate its history, where it’s come from. I hate how it knows my vulnerabilities, those little points of tenderness through which it can cause me pain. But despite its noxious little opinions, despite whether or not I deserve to be in the choir, the reality is that I am. Whether or not I’ve earned the love I’m shown, whether or not I’m worthy of it, doesn’t seem to matter: un-earned, un-deserved, un-worthy, it’s been given.
Which is, of course, the definition of grace: I don’t earn it, or deserve it. I’m not given it because I’m worthy of it. I’m just given it. Full stop. And regardless of my own opinion – and the opinion of that nasty little voice – of whether it’s a deserved blessing or not, it’s mine. I can’t pretend that the blessing of the choir, the blessing of amazing friends, the blessing of the love by which I’m surrounded, is not there. All I can do is find the great courage to accept it.
It doesn’t sound that hard…