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 all...in 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.
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