This past Sunday I sang in my first concert in a few years, this time as part of a mixed choral group called the Festival Singers. Janet said I often had a huge smile on my face and seemed to really enjoy myself. Though the concert came after only three weeks of rehearsals with the group, it was really the culmination of discharging a Divine Duty I’d been given nine months earlier.
Last July, just days before I was to begin several months of chemotherapy, I received a caring email from a donor-friend on the East Coast. I haven’t seen this couple in 3-4 years, but we really enjoy and appreciate each other. Mary wrote:
Hi Cory, I found myself up in the night last night praying for you. It’s always a little different when you’re up and everything is so quiet and there’s nothing else to do. During the prayer I heard a nudge that said to you directly…. “Keep Singing!” I think you sing but just thought I’d pass that on!
As Mary only vaguely recalled, I’d been happily singing for the past 7-8 years, but quit when my book After the Trip was about to be released. I never restarted after that, though I sensed during that time that my life-balance was out of whack. I later came to believe this imbalance may have contributed to my colon cancer, so I knew I should do something more with music after treatment ended, as a renewing and restoring activity and artistic expression.
But staring down the barrel of imminent chemo, Mary’s email that day carried the heft of a supernatural word, given to me both as a comfort and as an assignment to complete… after completing the daunting one right in front of me. A voice that could see beyond my looming cancer treatment was saying, “This chemo too shall pass. You’ll come through it, and then I expect you to take seriously a commitment to more beauty, more expression, more balance in your life!”
I took the admonition seriously, not just as a curiosity or coincidence, and I’ve already begun to reap the benefit — joy and blessing that I want to continue adding into my life. I’m sure that a big part of my enjoyment last weekend was in declaring that I was discharging that heavenly duty, accepting the divine invitation, and feeding my soul.
I’m quite prone to taking life very seriously (duh). But just think: perhaps God was even kind enough to wrap this invitation in the guise of a responsibility, an expectation to fulfill. God knows: I can do Tasks!
That’s rather incredible to consider, that God spoke my “love language” of task-accomplishment to get me to do something good for myself. “Cory, I love you and I invite you to do something really healthy for you” sounds very nurturing and comforting, but “Cory, I expect you to do this” got me off my butt! It took some homework and some risk over a few months to end up in this group but, more than anything else, I stuck with it because of the admonition Mary faithfully passed along. Otherwise, the hassles and my insecurities probably would’ve stopped or stalled me indefinitely.
I feel great love from God through this. God spoke my language, out of concern for my good. So as we finished our concert with Beethoven’s Hallelujah Chorus from “Mount of Olives” and Gaelic Blessing by John Rutter, I was truly channeling my own praise and gratitude through my voice.
And I leave this same blessing with you:
Deep peace of the running wave to you
Deep peace of the flowing air to you
Deep peace of the quiet earth to you
Deep peace of the shining stars to you
Deep peace of the gentle night to you
Moon and stars pour their healing light on you
Deep peace of Christ, of Christ the light of the world to you
Deep peace of Christ to you.
PS: This Thursday, I go in for a treadmill stress test. My only real remaining issue from treatment is some “skipping” heartbeats when I exert. The doc doesn’t seem worried, but it’s good to check it out so I can get back to exercising.