I borrow again from Madeleine L’Engle. She writes, “It is not easy for me to be a Christian, to believe twenty-four hours a day all that I want to believe. I stray, and then my stories pull me back if I listen to them carefully. I have often been asked if my Christianity affects my stories, and surely it is the other way around; my stories affect my Christianity, restore me, shake me by the scruff of the neck, and pull this straying sinner into an awed faith.”
This helps me explain to myself why I need creative arts. I’m not a writer, but the “stories” that “pull me back” often come through learning music. These stories could be in preparing a Mass by one of the great masters, like Mozart, or in studying how the harmonic language of Herbert Howells can work so beautifully to paint poetry in sound. An “awed faith” is a good description for the moments in singing that move me deeply, rattling something in my inner core that I can neither articulate, nor conjure up on my own, yet I know has happened. I’m often scared at the power of these sporadic, unknown emotions which I don’t know what to do with; but these gifted moments are awe-inspiring enough to change my mood, to let me believe, and to send me back to the practice room to listen and hope for more.