Sunday, August 29, 2010


One of the great graces of my life in the Society of Jesus has been all of the ways I've been stretched to grow in unimaginable ways. Were it not for the Society, I would probably never have learned how to cook. Were it not for the Jesuits, I probably would never have had the opportunity to maintain a blog such as this or to offer Irish music courses online. Heck, were it not for the brotherhood of the Society, I would never have gone to the gym or decided to train for and run a marathon.

So when new opportunities arise, I am pretty open to embracing them since every new opportunity just *might* uncover a latent gift or talent or passion. On Friday night, I was with several colleagues at a great bar in the city of Detroit - the Temple Bar - where we had a couple of drinks and toasted the beginning of the school year. As the night wore on, I grew excited when I saw how few people were in the bar AND that there would be Karaoke that night. For a few moments, a glimmer of hope past through my body: perhaps I would discover a great talent for singing, a new way of expressing my love for music.

So when the time came, I wasn't overly resistant to taking up microphone. We had some technical difficulties on the first song and the machine kept cutting out. We requested a second song - "Oh Happy Day" - which five of us launched into with swarthy abandon.

Well, I realized pretty bloody quickly that I have no talent - hidden or otherwise - for singing. I was lethal. It was not a "Happy Day" at fact, I was brutally miserable. I knew it was bad when two (apparently) homeless men who were sitting at the bar stared at us, pointed, and began laughing.

Adding insult to injury, these same two men took the microphones and began to sing after us. The only thing that made our performance technically better is that we could read the teleprompter...they, it appeared, were illiterate. Even without being able to read, I must admit, they were pretty good and definitely showed us up.

While I was at Mass today, I was really reluctant to sing at all. Knowing how bad my voice really is, I take to heart Saint Augustine's dictum that "He who sings well prays twice." I sing poorly, so my voice raised in song is more akin to a sung curse than it is to a prayer of thanksgiving!

We're all given different gifts. I'm only grateful that it was a small group of colleagues and two homeless men who had to experience my lack of talent in this one particular area. God willing, when my turn comes to join the heavenly chorus for all eternity, Saint Peter will hand me an accordion.


Anonymous said...

I added myself to follow your blog. You are more than welcome to visit mine and become a follower if you want to.

God Bless You ~Ron

Anonymous said...

I guess Jesuit novices are no longer required to read about the Fathers of the Desert. In particular the story of the old monks who daily croaked and brayed their way through the psalms. One day a novice arrived who had the singing voice of an angel. The old monks gradually stopped singing in order to listen to the novice. One day a real angel showed up to ask why they had stopped praising God. When he was given the reason, the angel informed them that their croaking and braying was more beautiful to God's ear than all the angel-like voices. Keep on singing, just not karaoke.

I think I'll follow your blog for a while.

Charriedades said...

He Ryan... I can't stop laughing after reading this post... Probably God did not give me that gift neither... I am a terrible singer and I do not really have a word about my Karaoke experiences, at least at Public places (Karaoke Bars).

I do remember once in Chicago that I was not confident to sing in English (It's still being the same) so picked up a Spanish song... it was the first time, and may be the only, that people really thought I was good... Guess why... Because my Spanish pronunciation was perfect... I do not really know how they did not tell that I am latin... Anyways...

Currently I do karaoke just with my family, for fun, and that's it... so many times, even on mass, I do not sing because I am know that singing is not one of my talents...

Peace, Mauricio

Anonymous said...

God hears the song of your soul just as loud as the song of your voice?