This week was another Sanctuary week, which as always gives me a lot of material to reflect on. Over the past few months since our coordinator left, I have been taking on even more leadership roles within the community.
For this particular week, our music director asked me to lead the congregation in this beautiful arrangement of the Buddhist meta-prayer, “May I be filled with loving kindness.” This is a song that I’ve known for along time and grew up singing, but the problem was, I really struggled to learn the new arrangement. During rehearsal our music director played and sang it with me over and over, and I could barely sing it on my own.
I was really pleased to be picked to lead a song all by myself, and I didn’t want our director to think I couldn’t handle learning a simple song, and I didn’t want to let the community down, so I worked on it. I listened to the recording over, and over. I waited for my roommates to be out of the room and sang it until I knew it. But I was still incredibly nervous and scared.
In the rehearsals before the service, even after a huge amount of practice it still took me a few tries to sing it correctly. Our director even asked if he should just sing it with me. At that point though, I had to prove to myself that I could handle this.
Needless to say, I was nervous during the beginning of worship. But much quicker than I wanted it to, my song came up in the order of worship. I got up and sang it through the first time. Relief! I remembered the melody it sounded ok and I could do this. In that moment, for the first time since I’d started practicing this song, I thought about what I was singing. This song is a prayer for peace, first for myself, and then extending out into the world.
“May I be filled with loving kindness, May I be well,
May I be peaceful and at ease, And May I be happy.”
At that moment I let myself let go of the anxiety, the fear, the trepidation and let myself be peaceful and at ease. I’m not perfect, but I know how to sing the song and what actually matters is praying with my community, not worrying about perfection.
The second verse replaces the “I” with “you” which I dedicated the “you” verse to my music director. I’m typically a little nervous around him, because he is such a talented musician and I don’t want to disappoint him, but all he had done through out the rehearsal process was show me loving kindness.
The subsequent verses, “we” and “all” were my prayer to my community. As a community, we aren’t perfect, our leaders aren’t perfect and things don’t always go smoothly. But I prayed for them to continue to be filled with loving kindness.
My performance was not without flaw. I stumbled on one of the verses forgetting to replace the right words, and I know my voice was a little shakier than usual because of my nerves. But my prayer… that was right on point. I took a moment to remember that even though our community prides itself on having really high quality music, it isn’t about being perfect. It’s about bringing beauty and prayer into the community.