Thursday, September 19, 2013


Many years ago, while living in Alabama, I was the chorister for our church congregation. The organist was a fair pianist, and a not so good organist. It was the week of July 24th, which in the Mormon culture is Pioneer Day, when we celebrate and acknowledge our ancestors who have crossed the plains from New York, Illinois, Ohio, to Utah.

One of the songs we sing in this acknowledgement is, "Come, Come, Ye Saints."


This song is supposed to be sung "With Conviction" and at a pretty decent tempo. However, it is often sung slowly and mournfully. 

A good accompanist follows the music director, but because this woman was new to accompanying, I had allowed her to set the tempo for the congregational singing. Yet I was determined we were going to sing this song with a voice of affirmation and great vigor, but the organist had a different idea. She played the prelude, slowly. I turned to her and whispered, "A little faster, please." We began to sing, and not only was she playing slow, but the congregation was singing slower, and we had quite the round going - all at different tempos. It was horrible. I was so disappointed in the accompanist and congregation. No one was even looking at me to see that we were all out of synch. 

As soon as the song was finished, I walked from the front of the chapel to the back, briskly, and out into the foyer. A friend of mine, who happened to be the president of our women's organization, the Relief Society, followed me. I was frustrated, I felt betrayed, and I was tired of trying to get the Southerners to better understand the value of hymns in worship services (I also taught a music appreciation moment every Sunday). 

My friend, Ann, said to me: "Ronda, before you begin to weed everyone else's garden, you need to weed your own." Yes, I did. What were my motivations, and why was I so angry at the congregation and accompanist?

Over the years, when I point a finger at someone/s, I try to look at the 3 pointing back at me and look at my role in the pointing. I have tried to keep my garden weeded, and in doing so, realize what a huge undertaking that is, and I have more empathy for those who see life differently than I. I know we cannot be singing with one voice at one speed, and different voices and tempos are good.

So these past 2 years (since my back accident on Sept. 17, 2011) I've been vigorously weeding my physical, spiritual, and emotional gardens. This isn't the first time I've done a deep-weeding, and probably not the last. But, here is what I've re/learned this go around:

Don't underestimate the power within. If I have good soil, I will reap decent crops. They may need to be fertilized and watered, but good soil is paramount. My good soil? My naturing and nurturing. I have a strong foundation - and even when I waiver, if I stop swaying and wandering around, and look inside, my inside is plowable, good, rich. 

I reap what I sow. Back to the 3/1 fingers adage. If I plant kindness, I will harvest kindness. If I sow anger, I may as well plan on receiving anger, from myself and from others. If I sow seeds of self-doubt, that's what I will harvest. 

Fear is only a flower disguised as a weed. That's right - as my father-in-law used to say, a weed is a flower someone hasn't yet discovered. Fear is an emotion that leads to another emotion, that leads to an event, which leads to a realization. Fear is good - but it needs to be acknowledged and contained, and often plucked from the ground so that what is being sowed will have space to grow. 

Worries are the snails and slugs of the garden. 'Nuff said. 

Even goodness needs to be thinned. My garden can be filled with beautiful beet greens, but too many greens do not make good beets. I can be busy doing good, but busy is not always good. I have to make time to see the soil. There has to be time to breathe, to be. 

Harvesting is a process, not an event. Life is going to happen, and just because I've conquered one aspect of my life does not mean it's the only part of me that needs refining. And just because I've been through that refiner's fire is no insurance I won't be going through it again. I am the constant gardener, and like my pioneer ancestors, "No toil, nor labor fear."

No comments:

Post a Comment