Gather

I haven’t brushed my teeth with cold water since August 5th.

The house we are renting for the year inexplicably has a seemingly-endless supply of hot water but no cold water. People have joked with me that this is the First World-iest of First World Problems to have. Yes, I am grateful for the beautiful shelter, air conditioning, and hot water, but there’s a quiet voice inside me that protests, “But I really like brushing my teeth with cold water, and I miss it.”

We moved over the summer for my husband’s job, and part of our transition has been to find a new parish.

I really loved the music at my old parish. The Eucharist may be why I attend Mass, but the music there would often speak directly to me about things I had prayed over or current events. Singing “Gather Us In’, “Sing a New Song,” “Blest Are They,” or “Lord of All Hopefulness” at Mass will guarantee that I will hum it to myself for the week ahead. I think of it as a rejoicing that bubbles up within me and seeps out.

The blue Gather hymnal is my Jam.

The Mass we’ve been attending in our new city is a more contemporary service, and my beloved blue Gather hymnal isn’t part of it. The words are on a screen, I don’t know the tunes, and I feel a little lost in spite of the universal consistency of the Mass. I don’t know these songs, and their unfamiliarity might as well make them another language. I’ve been chided that this hardly counts as a difficulty.

After all, the whole point of the Mass is our Eucharistic feast and the music shouldn’t be of consequence.

Yes, but there’s a quiet voice inside me that protests, “But I really like singing the songs I love at Mass, and I miss it.” I don’t know the tune to their Kyrie, Gloria, Sanctus, or Agnus Dei. I speak the words instead, but I miss singing them the way I always have. I knew moving houses would be difficult. I knew changing schools and making new friends would be difficult. I had no idea that finding my way in a new church would be so challenging.

There’s a stunning stained glass window over the altar and right before the Eucharist is shared these past few weeks, the setting sun blasts through the glass in a blinding ray of golden light. The first five rows of parishioners have to shield their eyes. I’ve never seen anything quite like it. To approach the altar without crashing into the person in front of me, I have to cast my eyes to my feet. It’s a humbling experience to shuffle slowly, unable to see. “We walk by faith, and not by sight,” the quiet voice inside me sings over the Communion hymn that’s actually playing.

Perhaps the Gather songs are in my heart and, bubbling up, will find their way out on their own after all.

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Nicole Murphy

Nicole Murphy

Nicole Murphy lives in Northwest Arkansas with her husband, son, and daughter. She’s the only non-musician in her house, no matter how hard she tries.

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