“I don’t like this.” That’s what I thought when our choir director introduced a new piece of music. It was a Nigerian tune with Nigerian words, the rhythm was difficult for me to sing, and I just didn’t like it. I could feel my face tensing, my eyebrows pulling together, eyes narrowing, nostrils pinching, lips puckering. “I don’t want to sing this song,” I said to myself.
But I did sing it for the six or seven minutes that our director led us, and I sang it again for a little longer at the next rehearsal, and again that the rehearsal after that. The rhythm became more familiar and the tune was peppy. I focused on the notes and the syllables and I stopped frowning. I didn’t know the song well enough to sing it without the written music in front of me, but singing it with the choir was pleasant.
As I recalled this process of getting past my initial reluctance I was reminded of myself as a child who needed coaxing to eat her vegetables some days. I resisted for all kinds of reasons, screwing up my face and saying, “Yuck!” This new music took me right back to my five-year old self, and to an appreciation for the people in my life who have helped me to try new things. The familiar things in life may be comfortable, but unfamiliar things, people, places, and jobs can be enjoyable too. With practice and patience they too can become familiar, even loved.
As I think about trying new things I am reminded of this verse from Isaiah: “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” (Isaiah 43:19.) In this time of year as the winter solstice approaches, with shorter hours of daylight and colder temperatures in the northeast, it can feel as if nothing new is happening, or worse – as if God is far away. I am thankful for the reassurance of scripture, music, and the people in my life.
Lord, keep my close to you, and to the people who encourage me to be open to new ideas, roles, and experiences. Amen.