It was a small gathering at the Sunday evening vesper service on Easter with the ages of people ranging from mid-60’s to 91 years old. I had been asked to come and serve them in a small way.
It was time to sing. A woman in her 60’s went to the little organ packed into the corner of the small room where the residents sat around tables. She cheerfully told them to take the hymnals and call out some favorites to sing. “He Lives, Christ the Lord is Risen Today, Because He Lives…” were just a few. They sang. Mostly off- key. But it was one of the most beautiful sounds I have heard in a long while. A disabled man sitting next to me could not find the page numbers for each hymn. I helped him locate each song quickly so he could sing, and each time he beamed at me and gave me thumbs up after we arrived on the correct page. However, he didn’t need the words. At full volume and joyfully he sang with his whole heart praising God. He lifted his hands in gratitude to the Creator of all things. His thin frame may have been confined to a wheel chair, but his soul was confined to nothing earthbound at all in those moments of singing. He was free.
If there is something I am learning about freedom, it is that it attracts. When you and I are interiorly free, we call others to freedom. Freedom attracts wherever it appears whether in a small group of disabled and elderly, or in a giant cathedral choir of professional musicians. A free person creates a space where others feel safe and want to dwell.
Our world is so full of conditions, demands, requirements, and obligations that we often wonder exactly what is expected of us. But when we meet a truly free person, there are no expectations, only an invitation to reach into ourselves and discover our own freedom and to enjoy freedom with them.
On Easter Sunday morning I heard a really talented and joyful choir sing out the best news we know as Christians. I’ve been to big churches and heard worship teams and choirs that sang to coliseums full of people. WOW. But none compared to this group for me. These precious folks did not worry about “getting it right.” Yet they had it more “right” than most people I know. They were not concerned about what others thought or what they might “get” for what they did. As a result, the most beautiful words and melodies emerged from the center of their beings. Mostly off key, off beat, and in theory, incorrect.
There was a simple and intentional sweetness that came through those whose bodies were shriveled and nearly useless. I felt that I was listening to them with the eyes and ears (just partially anyway) of the God who sent me. When we are open to listening and seeing with the eyes of our heavenly family, we will hear wonderful sounds, and meet wonderful people…and be happy to return home again.
Wherever freedom is, there is God. And where God is, there we want to be.