poetry • art • marriage • momhood • faith

"Do you sing?"


A few nights ago — or mornings, rather — Jason Mraz met me in my subconscious again. Even as my husband spooned me in the stolen moments before the alarm went off, I couldn’t help but savor the interactive screenplay in my head.

In my dream, I was at an outdoor concert, one where the parking lot was a field constrained by woods. It was nearing the end of a clear summer day. Near the woodline, I could feel the cool breath of evening, but still, the air was heavy with the heat and humidity of late July in Pennsylvania.

The concert was nearing an end, and Jason had just “disappeared” from the stage though the show continued; most of the crowd was still at the stage. I, however, was in the parking lot. I had missed the very end of Jason’s set in hopes of catching up with him at the bus. Sure enough, as he sprinted to the bus, somehow without an entourage or gaggle of starstruck fans, I was able to catch him. He had a huge, black afro wig in hand, presumably to disguise himself as he made his great escape. (At this point, we could hear that the crowds were on their way.) I asked if he had a minute before he got on the bus. He obliged, stressing though, that it needed to be quick. I introduced myself as being a huge fan, and thanked him for his influence and inspiration.

He was sweet and thanked me. And then he asked:

“Do you sing?”

I started babbling, “No, I mean, I was in chorus in high school, but not because I was any good, just because they needed people for the ensemble.”

As I did what I do in real life, talking myself in circles, he slipped the hilariously conspicuous “disguise” head piece onto his head.


And right about then, my alarm went off.

I hit snooze and tried to go back to dreamland. Alas, it was gone. All but that line:

“Do you sing?”

That’s really stuck with me. Even as I babbled in my dream, I knew I wasn’t answering the question my subconscious-posing-as-mraz asked.
***
As a kid at Sts. Peter & Paul Catholic school, Mrs. Zana, our music teacher once told the class, “When you sing, it’s like praying twice.” I didn’t know then that she was paraphrasing, St. Augustine: “Qui cantat, bis orat” or”To sing once is to pray twice.” Years and years later, Mraz raised the point again in his “1000 Mother******s.”

The sentiment has stuck with me along with Psalm 100:1: “Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands.” Take those along with the image of God as Loving Father, braid those three thoughts, and you have one of one of my deepest “faith roots.” It makes me smile to hear someone at church singing loudly off-key. (Often I’m just hearing myself.) It makes me think of how much I love to hear my children (neither of whom could be mistaken for members of the Von Trapp family) sing with abandon. I think their songs are something like what we give to God, when we sing with our hearts.

But I noticed that I haven’t really been singing lately. I mean, yes, I sing at church, along with the radio, and every word of “We Sing We Dance We Steal Things.” But I haven’t really been singing with intent, with my voice or otherwise. Really, my life has been a lot of humming lately.

I want to change that. I’m just not sure what song to sing.

So now, I ask you:

“Do you sing?”

9 Comments

  1. zila zila
    May 20, 2008    

    Heh…I’m just one tiny mother*)#(%*&^ singing proud…

    Do you sing? I sing.

    I sing with it, sing for the years. Sing for the laughter, sing for the tears, sing with me, just for today, never tomorrow, the good Lords gonna take me away….hey….hey…

    😀 Hope you’re doing great, hon.

  2. Chucka Stone Designs Chucka Stone Designs
    May 20, 2008    

    In High School we had a Preschool attached where the teachers were HS students and actually had to teach 3 & 4 year olds a couple times a week. I worked there because at the time I thought teaching would be an amazing career for me. One of the things we had to do almost everyday was sing with the class. Many of us were shy because by age 16 you know if you can sing on key or not. The school director sat us all down week 1 and said “Kids do not care if you can carry a tune, they do not judge you if you can or can not sing. All they care about is that you do it and have fun.”

    Since that day I have NEVER cared if I can sing or not and do it as often as possible. In the car, in my apartment alone and I’ve been known to sing random things that are not even a song in operatic ways while on a jobsite (usually about how paint is not cooperating or something).

    DO IT!!! Start singing again as often as you can, it is great for the heart, soul and spirit.

    ~♥~

    Oh & that dream…crap, I will not stop laughing over the afro picture all day. Foxy Brown right there lol!

  3. Suldog Suldog
    May 20, 2008    

    I used to sing, after a fashion. I was the lead singer in a few fairly horrible heavy metal bands. If you don’t mind a few obscenities, you might enjoy reading about my first such foray.

    (Don’t let the title throw you. It gets to the subway, but most of it is about the band.)

    http://jimsuldog.blogspot.com/2005/09/
    my-happiest-moment-in-subway.html

  4. Sandra Ree Sandra Ree
    May 21, 2008    

    Now how did I know you were Catholic? 🙂

  5. Bree Bree
    May 21, 2008    

    I sing…but I’ve found that my singing strength is in supporting others. I’ve a natural knack for harmonizing, but no delusions of being lead soprano at the Met, if you know what I mean. In my Mraz-related dreams, I’ve got Toca’s job singing harmonies and playing the drums. 😀

    PS is it weird that my word verification is “swshie”? Swishy? haha easily entertained.

  6. Chucka Stone Designs Chucka Stone Designs
    May 30, 2008    

    Because I’m insane I like to read all the comments on Jason’s blog…because that happened I know to say this…

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!

  7. artjewl artjewl
    May 30, 2008    

    First of all, Jenn, reading every comment on Mr. Mraz’s blog does NOT make you insane. Otherwise I am too. Ok, so maybe we’re both insane. Nevermind. …secondly, cute cake, but what’re you tryin’ to say? I’m not quite ready to sign up for AARP. The cake is about, um, 37 years off. 😉

    Now back to catching up…

    zila – I know you sing. and dance. I was just talking with my sis the other day about swing dancing, and your name came up. Hope you get to show your Lindy stuff every once in a while still.

    Jenn – such a good point about little kids not caring… but not always true. There was a span there when our older munchkin would flat out tell me to stop singing. I took offense, in part, because of the fact that they’re not supposed to care… sigh.

    Sandra – you knew because I hinted at a somewhat rebellious side…? 😉 I think most of us Catholic girls have at least a hint of that.

    bree – harmonizing, at least metaphorically, is more my style too.

    I wanted to clarify my original post. I really didn’t mean “sing” in the literal sense so much. I mean, that was the thing — in my dream, I took it literally, but when I woke, it felt like more of a metaphor. To sing, for me, is simply putting your true self out there for all to hear. 🙂

  8. Bree Bree
    June 4, 2008    

    Julie, is it too late to say “that too?” 😉

    I realized that my harmony comment fits both literally and figuratively, an unintended example of art mimicking life. Or life mimicking art? Either way, I think you know.

  9. Ginger Ginger
    June 6, 2008    

    i like to take all the windows off of my jeep, put my headphones on…because i have no stereo in the jeep…and i sing as loudly as i can, even at stop lights. it’s a test in bravery and self expression. i’ve only been called on it once by a truck full of twenty something guys honking their horn to get my attention. i just waved and drove off as the light turned green. i was singing “climb up, over the top. survey the state of your soul. you’ve got to find out for yourself whether or not you’re truly trying.” yep, mr mraz. that’s my favorite song of the century.

    i probably do it because, even though i can sing, i was told once that if you sing loud enough so that god can hear, he’ll fix it. funny that….sounds like praying. also, when i sing i feel like i’m praying.

    this was very good ~ thought provoking. i see in one of your comments that you are clarifying that this was metaphorical. i get that, but seriously, you should sing. 🙂

    and happy birthday!!!

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torch bearing quietly

I will not act out, will not
yell or curse or slam doors,
will not make a scene -- you
do not deserve such a chance
to make an example out of me
to be proven right since you
are not. Instead, I'll stand
at this street corner, raise
my hand high and clench that
light which yet remains. It
will burn brightly, quietly,
fiercely before fading as I.

Then I'll be gone but found.

©JAC 2005

Poetry by Julie Ann Cook!

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