My mom sang in the choir


My mom sang in the choir

Belting out notes no one could hit

While I sat in sulky silence

Ripping at my wretched tights

I talked loudly while they were praying

To whom, I have no clue

I remember being pinched and

Hushed while sitting in my pew

I was reprimanded for betting

In my Sunday school class--but

I won anyway, always the victor

In my own little world that

No one seemed to understand

I wanted to be home, sleeping late

I should have been painting on the walls,

Drawing on the floor, coloring my world

I wanted to be running through our woods

I didn't want to be stuck behind closed doors,

Forced to sing "Jesus loves me" in the kids' chorus

I always begged my mom not to make me go back

Be we always returned, because of course

My mom had to sing in the choir.


I got a little older and it didn't seem so bad

My neighbor managed to smuggle in my

Salvation, when she'd slip a few crayolas

Out of her purse and pass them to me

I sketched the pulpit on my bulletin

While the sermon slid into my ear

But my sister always disapproved

I sang the hymns...sometimes, but

I never said the affirmation of faith

Something about it seemed forbidden,

It was too big, too strong, to utter only

With half a heart, or in my case, with no

Heart at all. My father seemed to agree,

He stood in palpable silence beside me

As if he knew it would do no good to

Make an attempt to tackle those words

My sister tried, although she was usually

Drowned out, pulled by the strong undertow

Of the resolute voices all around us.

My mom didn't sing much anymore

There was too much to do, she was so

Tired; she told us to go without her

So we went without her, but it was

Useless, joyless, because no one

Was there to sing, or worship,

It was just an empty gathering.


I got old enough to attend youth group

With my sister. I went once and pleaded

Not to be sent back; it was horrible, I said,

Horrible. I was so selfish then, I didn't care

About the sadness I saw in my mother's

Eyes when she finally seemed to hear

My pleas and told me I didn't have

To go, and I rejoiced, set free

From such an empty obligation.


Middle school came and went,

Then high school, and I felt so

Dark, so dark and so profoundly

Empty that it couldn't be expressed

In words, and I realized it wasn't

Church---it was me; I was locked up

Inside my own empty cage.

Our family is so fatigued

My father had a heart attack--

No one told me until the day after

And I loathed myself because

I didn't care; I couldn't find an

Emotion anywhere within me

He still smokes and lies about it--

My mother doesn't know.

My sister trashed our house and yard

While partying and drinks

Excessively underage--my parents

Don't know about that either.

And my mother's so tired,

So tired. She no longer

Sings in the choir.


But then, something amazing

Happened--God set me free,

He unlocked my cage, and

Took the shackles off my soul

I'm free, not superficially this time,

But free, there's no experience like it

And I finally understood.

I didn't know how dark

Dark was until I knew God's light

He set me on fire, a parody

Of the burning bush Moses saw

I was on a mountain top

But eventually I had to come down

I will eternally be filled with joy

Because of Jesus' "amazing grace"

Salvation's no longer in the form of crayons.

Reborn, so new, I craved fellowship

When I came back to land at sea level

I asked to go to church--my mother

Got upset. We have work to do,

She said, we have to work.


Nevertheless, on Sunday I was

Dropped off alone, excited

But all I found was a dark, empty

Room because there's no longer

A senior high Sunday school class

And it hit me all of a sudden

That of course there's no one there--

No one cares, they're all like I was

Such a little time ago that it seems

Incomprehensible, and, soul bared

I stood and wept for fifteen minutes

Because none of my peers care about God.

I joined another class, another age

And at worship sang joyfully and

Said the affirmation clearly with faith,

And drank in how wonderful it felt

To worship God with other believers

But when I went home, into the staunch

Silence that is the foundation of my

Family--I couldn't help but cry again.


But no one talks about it in my family

Of irritable workaholics; no one talks

Singing was all my mother had

She's never spoken of what she believes,

She never told me about God--we

Never prayed when I was growing up

My dad scoffs at people who truly

Believe, or at least it seems so to me

He makes fun of faith, but I never really

Know for sure--it's so lukewarm

And we never talk about it

But my mom sang in the choir.