Coming to the Table: Change Happens

Expectation versus reality. In our society, people constantly place expectations upon one another to follow certain rules, perform particular deeds, and act in a specific manner — only to have reality crash down on them. In my second year as co-director of the Chapel Choir, I expected the same singers to return and sound exactly the same. My mentor and former co-director had graduated, and I was nervous. Because this group was different, I worried that I wouldn’t be able to relate to them or achieve what I had known as the perfect tonality in music. I panicked. Had I led my friends to believe that all I valued in the choir was exact pitch and rounded vowel sounds — which, please don’t get me wrong, are still quite quite important — instead of inner harmony and peace?

Then I began to wonder — had the choir really changed that much? No. It was really the change in me — from a spirited, optimistic leader to a nit-picky, nervous one. My new choir could not have been more supportive and patient as I began to conduct again. The joy and dedication to improvement that they showed at every practice and Mass made me feel so loved, even if I had expected too much too quickly. These people were different, but they didn’t see me as any less of a person than the previous choir. They loved me for the quirky, perfectionist director that I was. And I love them for continuing to put up with me.

Last weekend, our choir even sang the Liturgy at an off-campus invocation Mass for the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities. As we sang together, our voices joined as one — excited not only by God’s message but also by our friendship. At dinner following the Mass, the veteran members insisted on having one long table for our choir instead of splitting into two small ones. I could not help but think of the Last Supper as we sat at our table. Just as Jesus called for all of His disciples to take part in His Body and Blood, the returning members had called upon the new ones to take part in our own blessed community.

It just goes to show you that change is not a bad thing. God does not throw change in our way to ruin our lives or make things more difficult for us. He exposes us to change because without it, we cannot realize our shortcomings, mature, and gain inner peace. We must not back down from change but rather embrace it with open arms. I sure wish I had done that sooner — because this change has made all the difference.

Emily Manbeck (C’15)
Senior Co-director, Georgetown University Chapel Choir