Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The Tale of Echo

Once upon a time, there was a girl named Charlotte. She attended Church in a student ward, where she met many new friends and was very happy. In her very first student ward, there was a girl named Echo. Charlotte had known Echo for a few years at that time, because they had been neighbors before college. Echo was pretty and friendly and had a warm smile pretty much every time Charlotte saw her. Echo was a talented volleyball and basketball player, and she might have even been the Homecoming Queen when she was a Senior (although I can't remember that for certain). Echo seemed to make friends with the greatest of ease and was one of those girls that people just liked to be around, because you just felt better about yourself and everything else when you were with Echo.

Anyway, when Charlotte and Echo were in the same student ward all those years ago, Echo was the pianist for the Relief Society. Now, Echo was not quite as talented at playing the piano as she was in so many other areas. In fact, there were times when Charlotte would look around the room and wonder why Echo had been asked to play the piano when there were so many other sisters that could have done the job, many of them with more skill and less effort than Echo. These contemplative moments generally came during songs in which many consecutive wrong notes were played, to the point that it was even sometimes difficult to be sure what song the group was supposed to be singing.

Not that Charlotte (or anyone else) minded. Echo always had a smile, and sometimes a light laugh when she made those blunders, and it never detracted from the meeting or anything like that.

At the end of the summer, Echo stood during the last Sunday that the ward would be meeting together, and thanked the sisters for being patient and tolerant with her and her piano playing. She told of when she had been asked to fill this particular assignment, and the trepidation she had felt about it all, knowing what her level of piano proficiency was. She told of how she had decided that if this was what the Bishop would like her to do, then she would accept the assignment, and do the best that she could. She spoke of the times that she had been embarrassed as she heard the wrong notes coming from her fingers, and she spoke of the gratitude that she had that the sisters had been so accepting and encouraging of her efforts. And she said that she was grateful to have had the experience of playing the piano in Relief Society.

Two weeks later, Echo was asked to be the Relief Society President of her student ward. (the Relief Society President is arguably the most challenging, rewarding, and time-consuming assignment a woman can receive in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She is basically in charge of overseeing the welfare of all the women in the ward, and by extension of that, all the families in the ward) . Charlotte was in that ward as well, and she was impressed by what a good president Echo was, and how caring and optimistic she was about her duties and her opportunities. (One of the first things Echo did was request that a new pianist be called!)

Charlotte never forgot the example that Echo had shown that summer. She remembered it time and time again, especially when she was asked to fill roles where she didn't feel comfortable or adequate. And then, about 18 years after that summer, Charlotte, (whose piano skills are also less than ideal) was asked to be the pianist (and fill-in chorister) for the Primary in her ward. She was nervous, and didn't really think she would be able to do a very good job there. But, she remembered Echo, and agreed to give it her best shot.

And then Charlotte went home and started practicing like she'd never practiced before!


Harmony said...

How fun to hear about my friend Echo again after all these years! Good luck with the Primary pianist calling. The kids might notice your mistakes, just like you did Echo's, but they'll care even less. :-)

Jodi said...

I know we are taught not to aspire to callings in the church, but I admit I have a great aspiration to be the Primary chorister. Maybe it is a dream more than an aspiration. I have been a primary teacher for the last 3 years. My favorite time is singing time. I think playing the piano for primary is much more challenging than any other area. You have to know at a moments notice where a song is located or be able to play at all speeds and pick up at any point. Primary pianist are my heros!

Jeri said...

How fun! You will be great and I suspect your piano skills are about to take a giant leap forward. And don't worry at all about the kids taking notice of any mistakes. BELIEVE ME - If they happen to notice anything at all, they think it's the CHORISTER'S fault if anything doesn't sound exactly right.
one more tip from the chorister's point of view - as long as you are DEPENDABLE - we'll take whatever we can get!

And you can tell Jodi - being primary chorister is GREAT! It takes a lot of prep time and energy - but I love it! (Between you, me and the worldwide fence post - I'm feeling the winds of change in regard to my calling and I'm not thrilled. I just hope they let me keep going through the program. - who knows, maybe I'm just being fanciful and I won't be changed at all - I guess time will tell)

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