The other night, while playing a game of Cranium with my sister and her husband and her daughter, I found out that not only can I not sing (which I've known for quite some time) but I can't even hum on key. The sad thing is that I love to sing. My personal favorite songs are old time southern gospel and Hank Williams tunes, but I can crucify the Beatles, Leann Rimes, or Snoop Doggy Dog just as easily. People have been known to beg me to stop singing, that's how bad it is.
But this game the other night got me to thinking about some of the pleasant surprises I've had in my life. There have been two that come to mind and both involve singing. The first involved the very sister I was playing Cranium with. I was a young teenager at the time and sis was probably 19 or so. We had gone to a local community theater one Sunday for auditions for their next musical play. I wasn't auditioning, I was just along for moral support. We were regulars around the theater and as the auditions dragged on as auditions do, I sat with my back to the stage while a I flirted quietly with one of the cute actors I knew. I had pretty much ignored most of the singing and dancing going on behind me but when I heard a woman's voice singing "I Wants To Be A Actor Lady"...acappella...in operatic style and in perfect pitch, I had to interrupt my flirting to turn around and see who this person was who suddenly had everyone in the place listening. The singer was my sister, who had pretty much never sang before. Oh sure she had done bit parts in the chorus in shows, but she had never hardly opened her mouth before. She had walked in the shadows of our oldest sister who had long ago established herself as the one true star of our family. But now this sister #2 was singing like it was nobody's business. Everybody in the place was shocked and I was pleasantly surprised. Sis had the voice of an angel and I think she even surprised herself. Today she sings with some of the most demanding choirs in town.
The second time I was pleasantly surprised was at mass one Sunday after Christmas. As communion began and we all started toward the front of the church in single file, a man from up in the choir loft at the back of the church started singing "I Wonder as I Wander", again, without accompaniment. He had the most beautiful voice that was made even better by the great acoustics in our 75-year-old church. It was immediately obvious he was not one of the usual members of our mediocre choir. Not wanting to turn around while standing in line for communion, I made a mental note to check out the choir loft on my return trip and see who this voice belonged to. I wasn't the only one. Everyone seemed to look up as they made the turn from the altar. To our surprise (though we shouldn't have been surprised) it was our youngest priest, Father What-A-Waste, a cute young priest in his late twenties, who was the cause of many of the women in the congregation taking a sudden interest in going to confession. He got his nickname because it was a waste for such a handsome man to be a priest. We all knew he could sing, though until now we had only heard him sing the sung parts of the mass, the alleluias and the Kyrie Eleisons (he was the only priest who still sang them in Latin) but never an entire song. Here he was, singing his heart out, his Christmas gift to us, his sheep.
It was a pleasant surprise.