In chorale the other day, my instructor gave us a rather different sort of closing speech than he would normally have given. I suppose I should just speak for myself when I say we were all shocked and a little shaken, but I believe we all were.
At first I was embarrassed. He explained how he felt as though he was pouring everything he had into working with us and we were not holding up our side of the deal. We were seemingly unprepared and uninterested. As he scanned the room, I felt as though he were speaking directly to me. I was one of the unprepared after all, without the certain piece of music for the second day in a row. When you miss a day of chorale, you ask what you missed, just as you would any other class. My face was hot, probably red, and my hands were shaky. Of course, we all have our bad days, but when your attitude is "I don't care," that is a sin. Indifference is a sin! My italics indicate the point at which he was led by emotion, where he no longer resembled the humorous and wacky, yet cool and collected music instructor we see every day. Just for that moment, we saw the raw, hidden side of our emotional music instructor.
Then I was shocked. I was frozen in my seat with my arms crossed and my teeth clenched, both actions with a desire to keep my hands from shaking or my eyes from tearing up. This speech, or rather lecture, was completely unexpected.
Then I was angry. I had not missed any classes, yet I was missing music. The previous class, we started a piece I didn't have, so I raised my hand, and he passed it out again. This class, we started the second piece I didn't have, so I raised my hand, along with many others, and he told us, with a hint of frustration in his voice, that the music was in his office and that he'd already passed it out three times (which he had not, minor confusion there). I was at a loss for how I could have missed the music. I was angry that he was directly correlating indifference as a sin with us not having our music, or so I perceived. I love chorale. I love the instructor. I bring all I've got to chorale and try my best in every song, every day. I couldn't believe he would just lump us all into one disgraceful lot.
This scene wouldn't leave my head the whole day. It was like an awkward conversation in that you later rack your brain for ways you could have handled it better. I kept trying to think of loopholes, something I missed that would make it less appalling. And then I did (with help from an apologetically clarifying email* from my music instructor, in response to my apologetically clarifying email to him).
It was a teachable moment. We go through life just trying to check things off our list. Get in, get what you need, get out. Put in your headphones and turn up the volume. Memorize the steps needed and nothing more. God forbid you run into someone or something that changes that schedule. God forbid we feel uncomfortable. The thing is, we were not created to be lonely beings, to be selfish and live our lives only for our own comfort. We were not created to not care. Our God is a jealous God. And that doesn't mean he's insecure. It means he is passionately pursuing us. When he sees us straying from his path, he is not just going to stand by and let us go. He is not indifferent. Isn't that so much better than worshiping someone who doesn't care? We needed a wake up call. While this may have been more specifically about being unprepared for class, my music instructor's strong comments at the end of class were what we needed to hear, in regard to our whole lives, and not just in the chorale room. I don't know if my classmates feel the same way, if they are bitter towards our instructor for his sudden outburst, or if they are simply indifferent despite his urgency. But I hope we can learn from this teachable moment.
*"My hope is that each of you know my deep love for you as students, for the chorale art, and for our work together as God’s children. If I did not communicate this clearly I would need your forgiveness. I want so much for us to “be awake, attentive, and alert” to what God is willing to do in our midst as we walk by faith rather than by feelings."
Be loving, be frustrated, be kind, be angry, be thrilled, be bitter. But whatever you do, do not be indifferent.