I was blessed this past Sunday with the ability to sing for Mass at my church. Music and singing is a big part of my life. I started playing guitar and singing as a teenager and over time, music became a strong avocation. I’ve been singing ever since.
Having a little bit of talent does come with some modest benefits. I’ve been invited to sing for parties, weddings and funerals for friends, family and my church community, and consider it an honor to be asked. I’ve also been paid to sing for commercials, demo tapes, weddings and funerals for people I don’t know and appreciate the extra money.
I sing. It’s a heaven-sent gift and I know it.
Right around the time my body was ramping up for a particularly nasty lupus flare in 2002, I got involved in a music project to raise money for Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital in St. Louis, a non-profit pediatric health center.
A friend of mine (I won’t mention his name but his initials are F.R.A.N.) and I bribed and cajoled a talented group of musicians, composers, engineers, singers, and volunteers to bring this project to life. In the insuing three years, we successfully produced two CD’s of contemporary Christian music, with proceeds all going to the hospital’s expanded emergency room center. Our little project, called GlennonSongs, was a labor of love that financially benefited the hospital. It was also a creative outlet that was extremely rewarding for us.
Of course, working full time and spending all my spare time on this music project didn’t sit well with my immune system. I got really sick with a lupus flare and was drugged up on prednisone and methotrexate. Trust me when I say prednisone allowed me to work late seven days a week. I was moody and anemic, constantly in pain. But I was wide awake. For three years.
I refused to give in to lupus. I would not let go.
My road back to singing has been very slow. I was too weak to stand and sing in church for a long time. I couldn’t hold a guitar, look at music and sing into a microphone because I would get terribly dizzy. Steroids made my voice reed-thin and without strength. If that didn’t do me in, I’d get those awful steroid sweats, accompanied with chest pain and heart palpitations. I couldn’t tolerate the loud noises and bright lights. My eyes would hurt and my head would ache. Why try to get back to the music when the road is so long and difficult?
Last Sunday I looked at the stained glass window in my church. I thought of my mother. I asked Mary to give me the strength to sing my song. I was blessed.
I found my voice, my prayer, and my music.
This time, I had the strength to let go.