Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth. Psalm 100:1 (NRSV)
Yesterday morning, I climbed the stairs to the choir loft to rehearse a duet with the first flutist and the church organist. In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, we were playing “Lord of the Dance” during first service offertory. I hadn’t performed in public for nearly forty years and was a little nervous.
The sanctuary hadn’t warmed up yet and neither had our flutes, creating tuning challenges. We did our best to match pitch with the organ then started at the top. Within the first few phrases, I made a mistake, articulating two notes instead of slurring them. I shrugged and kept going.
Later, I told the organist, “I used to beat myself up for making mistakes. It’s different now…”
She nodded and said, “I don’t worry about imperfection. I know I’m going to make at least one mistake every service. I just concentrate on making joyful noises.”
Last week, I noticed the Mountain Pieris shrubs, on the slope at the foot our driveway, were in full bloom. I’d seen blossoms through winter but nothing like this show. Mountain Pieris are evergreens, though the leaves of this variety’s new-growth are bright red.
Walking Heathcliff late yesterday afternoon, I stopped to climb the slope and take a closer look at the blossoms. The pendulous flower clusters were also red, with small white blooms shaped like lily-of-the-valley. The shrubs all had flaws—gangly branches, spotted leaves, uneven flower clusters. But with heads bowed, the tiny white blossoms looked like glad worshippers, making joyful, imperfect noises.
This weekend, after nearly three months off, I returned to manuscript revisions. Two weeks had passed since I wrote in my blog, “My editor/coach recommended that I identify the tension points, look at the chapters and sections that were working, then borrow ‘the recipe’ to revise, craft, and shape the manuscript. Welcomed marching orders.” Or so I thought.
I was stuck. And coming down with a nasty cold didn’t help.
Last week I sat down at my desk and gave myself a good talking to. You play your flute For Thy Glory, I reminded myself, and the Mountain Pieris blossom For Thy Glory. Your story is not for you, it’s for others. Make a joyful, imperfect noise to the Lord.
Welcomed marching orders. Then I wrote a new prologue. For Thy Glory.