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March 24, 2019: All Souls Pray • Unexpected Moments

 by Bobby Stubbs

I have often thought it would be much easier for me to grow spiritually if I did not do church for a living. I consider myself more than a musician who happens to work in a church. I savor opportunities to attend services merely as a worshiper.  Each week, I listen to multiple sermons online to get different perspectives on scripture lessons. But on Sundays, I feel unable to access non-musical part of myself. Leading weekly choir rehearsal, playing the organ, and conducting a Psalm and two choral pieces for Mass requires me to conjure up an energy that does not feel particularly prayerful.  I love my profession, but sometimes I feel deprived of a true Sunday worship experience. Thankfully, I have found an alternate prayer outlet--at my other job, of all places!

In addition to being Director of Music at All Souls, I am Organist and Associate Director of Choral Music at Episcopal High School, a boarding school in Alexandria. The entire student body and faculty gathers three times a week just before lunch for Chapel services, which last roughly fifteen minutes and include a hymn, a Psalm and a scripture lesson, a homily or student talk, and prayers. On Thursdays, we even include silent meditation. Students and teachers at EHS come from a variety of religious backgrounds, and quite a few do not identify with any religion. Our chaplains create a space of welcome and inclusion that inspires me.

Attending Chapel over the past year has been unexpectedly grounding and has enhanced my own prayer life. I did not have to carve out time for these enlightening pauses. They are an ongoing opportunity for me to bring my awareness to my too-often-neglected faith development. I tend to avoid this territory because it gets overwhelming. I compare myself to my spiritual role models and ultimately make excuses to myself about not having time and energy to invest in my relationship with God or to discern how to live into the virtues to which I aspire. The consistency of school Chapel helps interrupt the momentum of self-doubt. Thus I am less driven to escape uncomfortable feelings, such as inadequacy, and more mentally available for prayer that is sincere. As we make our Lenten journey together, I hope that all of us can regularly find unforeseen moments to pause and thereby to pray with an open heart. I encourage you to seek out places to do so—whether here at All Souls, at other churches, or anywhere else that offers a space conducive to you.

Last Published: March 20, 2019 4:05 PM
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