The Church of Friday Sing
posted by Amy

Yesterday morning before work, I ducked into the cafeteria at my kids' school to watch their weekly Friday Sing. Henry's class was presenting the word of the week ("helpfulness," if you were wondering), and he was a little nervous about speaking into a microphone in front of the entire school, or at least in front of grades K-3, so I figured I'd stand in the back and offer some moral support.

So I stood there, feeling very tall in the midst of a crowd of schoolchildren, and listened to them sing and thought about my own elementary school Friday Sings, when we sang mostly patriotic songs, show tunes, and an oddly macabre song about the Titantic which we all loved. The chorus went something like this: "It was sad, so sad, it was sad, so sad, it was sad when the great ship went down to the bottom of the sea. Husbands and wives, little children lost their lives, it was sad when that great ship went down." Only the tune was really catchy and fun, so I never really thought about what the words were saying until years later, when I started singing it to Henry as a baby. I loved those mornings spent singing.

I was abruptly brought back from memories of fifth grade when the power went out in the cafeteria. This meant that the overhead projector with the song lyrics couldn't be used, that all the lights went out, and most of all, that the microphone didn't work. And so Henry's week of worrying about what his voice would sound like amplified was for naught. He marched up to the front of the room with the rest of his class, gave an example of how he could be helpful (he could make his friends laugh), and sat down after the other 18 kids had also spoken. It was sweet and a little anticlimatic.

Maybe it was the silence--no humming lights, no microphone feedback, no background music for the singing--or the overwhelming relief I felt that he'd made it through a milestone event for him. Maybe it was the combination of the two. All I know is that when the kids started singing "Peace Like a River," I had to choke back tears. I went on to work and taught my Friday classes feeling...well, peaceful.

Later on that same day, a new CD, Elizabeth Mitchell's You Are My Little Bird, came in the mail, and wouldn't you know? "Peace Like a River" is track 9. Josie heard it and came running in to do the sign language for it, and we've listened to it over and over ever since, here in the Church of Friday Sing, where miracles happen when the electricity goes out.