My little sister is about to sing her first ever solo open mic night in Tokyo tonight. At 17, she’s hardly little anymore but I’ve never been good at remembering that – as she will attest to with a well-practised roll of the eyes. I feel a twinge of regret that I won’t be there to see her and clap and squeal more loudly than anyone else, but also reminded of how great it is that I can cheer her on from the other side of the world, through whatsapp, through prayer and through this thought thrown out into the blogosphere.
My sister is SO BEAUTIFUL! Of course I’m biased etc etc but that’s not really what this is about. Because through any lens, she is beautiful, as we all are. Made perfect in His image, Christ’s kiss sealed on her heart. And I have been so humbled and proud of her as she made this adventure to Japan on my parents’ coat-tails, as the only child still living at home with them. Starting American school, being thrust into a world of new accents, school lockers, basketball teams, promposals, friends with maids, APs, long bike rides every morning and electronic babies. Good for you, sister, I always tell people I don’t think I could have done it as well as you have, and you should be so aware of your courage.
One of the saddest things about her leaving Leeds, though, was that she left behind the season shared with her group of beautiful girls who sang and lived and loved together (you can see a sneak peek here), the Vee Vettes. When they sang together in spine-tingling harmony, something special happened and the many people around Leeds and on Youtube who began to share this biased view of mine backs this up. They were four singers, each very different in style and voice and character, who created something seamless and whole when they came together.
I only saw them a few times but I’m grateful for each of the times I did. It was a story lived out of the ‘tapestry of love’ into which all of our beautiful skills and differences can be knit, as St Paul reminds us in his letter to the Colossians.
But tonight she will raise her voice on her own, and I am SO excited for the new beginning that it represents. My prayer for myself at the moment is that God would help me draw out my voice, help me to know it and own it. Michaelangelo said of his sculptures that they are not of his own creating but were already in the stone, waiting to be discovered. That’s how I feel about the process each of us goes through in order to find our voice – in song, in word, in poetry, in a whisper.
‘He has put a new song in our mouths’. Isn’t that what we are promised in the psalms? Our beautiful task in this life is to unearth it, to chip away at the years of sediment, dust, grit and whatever else enviro-biological things help to constitute a rock (I’m confident that I could be chipped away at for years and still a scientist will not emerge). All the disappointments, failures and broken dreams. And in doing so, discover the song which only we can sing. Only you, only me.
So much of this is about vulnerability, and the willingness to be brave. It’s so easy to not speak out, or to keep our voices hidden when the reaction could be a hostile silence or rejection. Fear creeps in and we tell ourselves we’ll speak tomorrow, that someone else will do it today. And of course this is all true, and we are human and that’s okay.
But my decision for this year was to try to live courageously, and to say yes to the small braveries in the everyday. Some days I feel I’m on it, and others (read: most days) I’m totally not. But my sister is definitely taking the small step of brave today which is why this virtual high five across the ocean!
So my prayer for her tonight is that she will sing, and that she will soar. That with each note it will chip away at one more grain of rock in the process of finding her God-breathed voice already formed within. I thank you God for her gift. I thank you for her courage. I thank you for her soul.
I pray, sister, that would always send your voice upwards for the good of those around you. That it would be a voice wielded for freedom, for speaking up on behalf of those for whom their voice has been silenced, for the bringing of joy to the tired and weary as they are reminded of the song that they too have hidden in their own hearts. I know that you have inspired me to find my voice (probably in word, not in song.. 🙂 ) and I pray into the power which I believe you have been entrusted with to do the same for others.
So now, as for me, I guess I too will be brave today…