Swish… I listened to the movement of the purple robes gravitate towards the center of the platform. Each person wore a similar smile while lifting their eyes into the rafters above them. On the piano’s faint stroke, their mouths formed as one into the same ‘O’ position. Fingering my wedding band, I set my bulletin on my pew and walked out of the church.
I couldn’t sing. My father reminded me every time I crooned Patsy Cline songs into his microphone during breaks with his country band. My sisters told me as they doubled over in laughter while I howled the latest Beatle tune in the backseat of our Olds. My mother gently warned me when I begged to try out for the church choir.
When you are twelve years old you need to know you are good at something. I wasn’t particularly talented at sports unless you counted being picked last every time. I wasn’t able to draw ribbon producing pictures in my sixth grade art class as did my best friend Nancy. I couldn’t even get picked for the Mayflower Court during Mayday week. I figured, then, that Mrs. Harding, the choir director, could use her gift of a musical ear and hear my potential.
Tryouts were at three o’clock sharp.
“I don’t want to be late, mom,” I blew into my mittens. The three block walk to the church seemed longer than ever as we crunched through the week old snow.
“Just remember what I told you. Silent Night is supposed to be sung slow. Not like your Beatles’ song. Do you remember?” She shot me a look of sluggish hope.
“Of course, I do. Gee wiz, mom, give me some credit. Besides, I think we are singing Joy to the World.” I was worried enough myself but still had that inane hope that my God given talent would finally shine through.
We entered through the side door. Our boot clad feet echoed together on the wooden steps before we crossed the carpeted foyer into the sanctuary. The aisle lay before me. At the end of it, three steps rose to the PLATFORM. My breathing changed to shallow starts.
“I’ll pick you up in about an hour. I’m going to walk over to the Five and Dime to browse.” I faintly felt my mother pat my arm as I moved to join the group of other want-to-be singers.
I never sang better. I peeked at the other singers and wondered why they were grinning so much. The song wasn’t over and we still had to take our bows.
“Children.” Mrs. Harding raised her fleshy arm and waved it in front of our little group. “I’m going to announce the new choir members and then we will begin our first practice.”
I nestled in closer to the girl with the patent leather shoes and wove thoughts of how the choir robe would feel over my new red dress.
“Thank you boys and girls. Will the new choir step forward?” Everyone rose as one and stepped up on the platform. Everyone except me. There must have been a mistake. I wanted to slide behind the pew and hide my burning face. She didn’t call my name. The girl with the ugly glasses was standing behind the cute boy. She was practicing standing on her toes while I looked up from the pew. It wasn’t fair.
“I tried to warn you, honey. God doesn’t bless everyone with a singing voice. He sometimes gives us other gifts. You’ll find yours someday.” I didn’t believe my mother and promised myself that someday I would be a singer. God could do miracles.
The wind was blowing as I maneuvered the path to the parsonage. I reached for the brass handle and gently lifted. Reaching the bedroom, I motioned for the young girl to come into the hallway.
“Is the Pastor ready to preach now?” She whispered.
“Yes, the choir should be done singing. John will be starting soon. Thanks for babysitting, Cara. My daughter will back tomorrow.” I touched her shoulder and shooed her on.
I bent over the cradle and reached for the cooing sounds of my new granddaughter. Softly, I began to sing Silent Night in the voice I knew God had created for just these moments.
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