I was lucky enough to go to Catholic school.
I know: it doesn’t sound lucky, does it?
But for me, it was entrancing, exotic, completely different from life with my non-churchgoing family: the statue of Mary in the foyer, the weekly mass in the hushed chapel, the fonts of holy water in every room, and the nuns garbed in grey, faces peeking out from wimples.
Sister MaryAnn, who taught us English and music, was my favorite. Unlike Sister Bernadette who was melancholy, or Sister Buena who was cranky, SisterMaryAnn exuded joy as she taught us to sing.
There wasn’t a piano, there wasn’t a choir room: we learned to sing in the same classroom where we did spelling and composition, with the only difference being that we stood up, right beside our desks.
Sister MaryAnn worked out harmonies democratically, by dividing the room into quarters. It didn’t matter if you were soprano, alto, tenor or bass: you sang whatever your section sang. And, you had to sing loud.
That’s because, for Sister MaryAnn, singing was praying.
And if for some reasons you weren’t singing loud… if you were shy or mumbly or unsure that day, she’d march over to your desk and stand there as long as it took, hand keeping time like a metronome until finally, in embarrassment or surrender or exultation, you belted it out at the top of your lungs, full force of you, whole heart singing.
I always loved that she made us do that: open up fully, even when we were afraid, even when we didn’t feel like it.
We always felt so much better after Music.
Our hearts had opened, whether we wanted them to or not.
P.S. If you have not yet discovered the music of Martyrs of Sound, take a listen!
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Sara Wiseman blogs about spirituality and intuition several days a week. Get award-winning Daily Divine delivered to your inbox, plus receive a FREE ebook!