Welp, here I am in Taos, New Mexico. Kind of random, right? God provided (with the help of many of you! Thank you!!) and brought be right here right at this time. I'm supposed to develop my skills as a young opera singer, and get ready for upcoming "bigger" auditions. But is that all? Is God calling me to something more?
My devotional this morning was based on Psalm 46:10, "Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations; I will be exalted in the earth!" This got me thinking. Here I am, almost 26, a year out of grad school, and I still cannot seem to allow myself to settle and be still enough to allow God to do his good work in me. I know He has more for me, but I have been so consumed with other distractions, that I just haven't let Him in. The author of the book I am reading, (which I will probably reference often in the upcoming blog posts) Invitation to Silence and Solitude, by Ruth Haley Barton, was advised, "You are like a jar of river water all shaken up. What you need is to sit still long enough that the sediment can settle and the water can become clear." Am I that shaken jar of river water? Is that why I am here? Is that why God called me away from my husband, my close-knit Christian community, my family, my many comforts of "home," to be surrounded by 30 strangers I have never met? Is this the radical thing I needed to actually "get away" and meet Him face to face? Perhaps this whole singing thing is just the means, so I may be forced to be truly vulnerable with my human limitations, to learn to only worry about the opinions of God, and ultimately to completely trust God to do something internal, in both my heart, and my voice. (See! There's a singing/God metaphor! I need to come up with a better buzzword for them.) So once again, these little reminders, that can come from anywhere–teachers, coaches, books I'm reading, circumstances–all are little glimmers of hope, drawing me back to Him.
Now to TOI (Taos Opera Institute). I showed up not really knowing what to expect. I could imagine some things based on the Tyrolean Opera Program I did in Austria five years ago, but then I didn't even really know what opera really was, how to say "je veux" in French, or that I could actually learn to love dancing and figure out where my extremities ended. Hopefully I've come along way since then! So where do I go from here?
First, I'm realizing that I have had to be much more dependent than I'm used to. It was encouraged that we drive here to have a car, since many things (including groceries and performances) are several miles away. However, that just wasn't in the cards for me. I depended on another student to bring a box of stuff (yoga mat, fitness ball, keyboard, some food) from Arizona that I couldn't fit in my suitcase, and I graciously accepted a ride from another student from the Albuquerque airport to the Taos Ski Valley three hours away. Turns out, Andrea, who picked me up, got married a day after me and Gilbert! How's that for a little reminder that I won't be alone as I thought I would be?
But then I got to my room, and here's where I got off to a bit of a rough start. I learned that in my condo (which I share with another girl), we don't actually have a separate living/eating space, but actually a murphy bed that converts to a table, that can be one of our "own rooms." Our fridge is broken, the dinky light is out in my bathroom, the kitchen sink is leaking, and the awesome little roll up keyboard I ordered from Amazon doesn't work. I have no idea who to ask to take me to the town 35 minutes away to get some groceries to fill my broken fridge. Oh, and all the other condos I got to peek at are freaking amazing and gorgeous. The customer service representive in me was quickly embittered, bringing me to tears. Eventually, I managed to pull the fridge out from the wall, fish out the cord and plug it in. Apparently the fridge technically works, but just smells a little funky and makes a loud grumbling noise at all hours. So far I've just been pretending it's the sound of waves crashing gently to lull me to sleep instead. Thankfully my neighbor took me to get groceries, stocked up on some necessities, and of course forgot some key things. (How am I supposed to make a salad without any specialty cheeses? Gah, curse of the foodie...) I was ready to make my case as graciouly as possible for a room change, but the site admin was already gone. I took some time to try to settle down, and to ask God what He could possibly be teaching with all of this, and why it seemed I got the majorly short end of this stick when I paid just as much as everyone else.
That is when I realized I am being stripped of all the things I pride myself in–being a homemaker and making my surroundings look nice, being the "hostess" and having the means to take care of everyone else, being "the one with the car" able to come and go as I please. All these things are basically elements that I have been able to control in the past, and have joyfully been able to serve others by sharing what I have on my own terms. Instead, I'm using a plate as a cutting board, I have to invite myself in to another student's beautiful condo with plush couches, vaulted ceilings, and grand table, have to reach out and ask for a ride if I want to go somewhere, and ask to use my roommate's keyboard if I want to practice. I suppose this is called being humbled. Darnit! I guess I probably am not supposed to get a better room, and God knew this would happen. So once again, I am reminded that I am not here just to sing, but to be transformed by God. And first, in that process, learning to just "be still," embrace my circumstances, and know that He is at work.
Finally, I'm probably making this sound way worse than it actually is, so here are some pictures to show what it's really like. It's actually really beautiful, the weather is just perfect, and everyone has been super nice. Praise the Lord for that! Tonight we have a welcome dinner and orientation, and we start tomorrow at 8:00am with Zumba class! More on that later...