Continuing our Something Done in a Small Moment series, Mo Henderson describes her experience of singing in a choir and how one small moment changed her understanding of what it is to “‘sing’ together “
Many years ago while attending a long retreat at Throssel Hole Buddhist Abbey in Northumberland, I had the opportunity to practice with the choir. My only previous experience was at school when I was chosen to be in a choir by the music teacher. At that time I was rather reluctant and thought I may not be too good at singing. The experience of practising with my school friends was actually very enjoyable, we even won a competition at the City Hall in Newcastle. I will never forget the sense of being together and the mutual support and happiness I felt. In hindsight I believe this must have brought confidence to many of us, it certainly helped me.
I had never put myself forward to join a choir again, until years later having the opportunity to practice with the monks’ choir at Throssel. I was asked to intone a few notes to find out what kind of voice I had, then I was allotted a place to stand in the choir. As I was there for a few months, I was able to share choir practice on a number of occasions and just as at school, I enjoyed the experience immensely. I gradually came to realise the gifts of being part of a choir.
I think the main one was simply playing a part with others, hearing all their different voices including my own voice to create a whole harmonious sound. I found the concentration on listening and following the music, although not easy at first, eventually became effortless. Then, during one practice, something happened, time seemed to stand still and the joy of it all seemed like one endless moment. There was a deep appreciation for the mutual support of everyone, while at the same time the synergy of sound was as one voice.
I have not had the experience of singing with a choir since that time at Throssel. However, in my daily life, I like to take time to reflect and to recognise how others, things and nature around me are showing helpful support and how I can appreciate and mutually help too. In the past I know I have not always looked in this way and know there must have been much support I have not noticed. This does not involve needing to sing, but I believe there are many ways we can ‘sing’ together if we take a moment to listen.