Fathom Mag
Article

For When We Lose the Song

Published on:
July 11, 2018
Read time:
3 min.
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Just the other day, I started singing in the shower. It’s not so much the singing that’s unusual, as I fancy myself a millennial with a proper getting ready playlist, but it’s more the part about the what and the from where and the why.

The song snuck up on me, and I think I even looked around to spot the source of the goose bumps.

All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.

The What

One year ago, I stood in a circle as twenty voices echoed off the Italian monastery walls and danced into the adorned ceilings—acoustic harmony that made grown men cry. We sang this same song every day as we traveled for three weeks studying medieval art and spiritual disciplines.

Some days, I look in the mirror and it seems I’ve lost my reflection in the steam, as the soul-sucking adulting has stolen some of me.

So much has changed in a year since I rounded out that circle—praying I would never forget that one particular rendition where the blend painted my cheeks rosy.  I’ve felt and I’ve numbed. I’ve grown and I’ve shrunk. I’ve said it and I haven’t said it.

Some days, I look in the mirror and it seems I’ve lost my reflection in the steam, as the soul-sucking adulting has stolen some of me—the daily trek past the motel featuring discounted jacuzzi rooms and the bow-legged man with the brown paper bag who crumbles on the pavement next to broken glass at 8:30 a.m. Perhaps these views on the way to the cubicle have ganged up to rob me of the lyrics and the melody that pierced my days for a time. Is it a different song when sung in an echoing sanctuary, or in the open air at the top of the hill past St. Francis’s olive groves?

All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.

Where It Came From

It’s the where did that come from that’s to blame.

Or maybe it’s really the why. Why had I tried to bury this song with the hatchet this year? Why did I start singing it again now?

The song spiraled with the steam and I immediately wandered back to the book waiting for me on the shelf, The Divine Hours, the fixed-hour prayers for summertime that I had devoured last summer after praying through liturgy daily in Italy, just like the monks and the nuns and the saints who sang before me.

It is quite straightforward and linear, really. And, perhaps, the bravest form of rebellion I have in me right now.

There’s little room for creativity, simply expectation to show up at the right time with the black printed on white right in front of us that we hold in our hands. There’s little space for free form, poetic meandering or interpretive dancing of the soul. There are words given and words received. There is a beginning and an end, a necessity as I close the book to wade through the messy middle.

It is quite straightforward and linear, really. And, perhaps, the bravest form of rebellion I have in me right now.

I know exactly what to expect when I show up. I know exactly who will meet me. There are no sudden turns or unmet expectations, there’s no room for flirting with darkness. 

All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.

Do we sometimes lose the song? Can we replace the lyrics with what we think we deserve, convinced that only some shall be well? Or will we find ourselves alone, singing into bathroom acoustics the song that perhaps we knew all along?

Ashley Tieperman
Ashley Tieperman is a lover of words, sprinkles, and wooden pews. She has a master’s degree from Dallas Theological Seminary and works for a marketing agency in Baltimore, MD. Check out her work on her blog at ashleytieperman.com.

Cover Image by Mohammad Metri.

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