· Music

Music.

Church Music.

It's what I know. And what I was told, over and over was, "Your music is a gift and so you give it to help others." "Before you sing, always pray and get your heart right, for what you do matters."

This, or a version of it, was in every birthday card, and written in every book given to me growing up. There was little room in my family for getting the big head around music. Music was for service and in serving others, I learned they were right. When I served others with my music, when I saw how music shaped and formed pieces of their hearts, I couldn't help but learn more and develop my skills.

I tried a bit in college playing outside of churches, but it never felt the same. Something was missing. Maybe it was those years of playing piano in between helping mom empty the trash. We cleaned the church for extra money. It was on one of those cleaning days when I learned to play a hymn with both hands.

I learned then, children have all they need to live their purpose.

My Aunt, in the photo above, loved music and became a different religion. That blessing stayed with me as I learned to enjoy music of different faiths. And, thanks to my Dad, I learned to pick out the intro to "Imagine" by John Lennon and the organ riff in "Abraham, Martin, and John." Andrea Crouch, "Jesus is the Answer" was a staple and Bach had nothing on Bill Gathier.

Years later, when my father passed, I found myself playing for a rare funeral. I never thought much of funerals. I avoided them to be honest. Yet, here I was, three months after his passing playing for a funeral crying in between each song. A kind funeral director came into the choir loft and asked me if I would be available for his funerals.

I knew nothing about funerals or what it entailed, but I knew that I wanted to hold a place for them in my music. I knew my heart had felt that pain and I wasn't afraid anymore. I knew all the musical influences brought me to the place where I could connect with more people than I would have ever dreamed possible.

A few months after that, I was singing and playing for a beautiful young girl, tragically killed in our town. I felt such gratitude at being asked and it has changed my life forever.

Pain is pain and grief is a unique pain. I am no longer afraid of it. I am only afraid of not sharing the music that helps and heals.

A funeral is a period at the end of a sentence, to a story that keeps on going.

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