I went back to St. Andrew about once a month. No one tried to con me into sitting down or staying. I always left before the sermon. I loved singing, even about Jesus, but I just didn’t want to be preached at about him. To me, Jesus made about as much sense as Scientology or dowsing. But the church smelled wonderful, like the air had nourishment in it, or like it was composed of these people’s exhalations of warmth and faith and peace.
There were always children running around or being embraced, and a gorgeous
stick-thin deaf black girl signing to her mother, hearing the songs and the
Scriptures through her mother’s flashing fingers. ….And every other week they
brought huge tubs of great food for the homeless families living at the shelter
near the canal to the north. I loved this. But it was the singing that pulled me
in a split me wide open.
I could sing better here than I ever had before. As part of these
people, even though I stayed in the doorway, I did not recognize my voice or
know where it was coming from, but sometimes I felt like I could sing forever.
Eventually, a few months after I started coming, I took a seat in one
of the folding chairs, off by myself. Then the singing enveloped me. It was
furry and resonant, coming from everyone’s very heart. There was no sense of
performance or judgment, only that the music was breath and food. Something
inside me that was stiff and rotting would feel soft and tender. Somehow the
singing wore down all the boundaries and distinctions that kept me so isolated.
Sitting there, standing with them to sing, sometimes so shaky and sick that I
felt like I might tip over, I felt bigger than myself, like I was being taken
care of, tricked into coming back to life. But I had to leave before the
This is why I sing on the Praise Team - for the person who hears it in their heart.