The Candle of Love – by Jenny Tisi
Today is the last Sunday of Advent. We will light the candle of Love today. And what greater way for me to spend my morning than cooking up our 6th annual Biscuits and Gravy Breakfast for the young men of Trouveres. Our newest ensemble, Vox Cambiata, will come and enjoy a feast at 7:45am and look forward to this bonding time every year. No one arrives late. In fact, everyone arrives early.
They meet me in the parking lot, without being asked, to help me cart all of the food in. And as I put the food out, potluck style, it is always so much fun to listen to the older, more seasoned singers tell the newer ones who have never seen or heard of biscuits and gravy, tell them how to set up their plates. They always say, “Don’t worry about what it looks like in the pot. Trust me. You want to eat this.”
At a time of year where I feel I cannot fit in one more thing, this is a tradition I must continue. I continue it in the name of love for a bunch of young teenage boys, who give so much of themselves to this choir community. At a time in history, where sports wins out over the arts in schools, the acceptable activities for young men, and when some deem being in a choir “social suicide”, our young men choose to be involved in this community of singers not just once a week, but twice. At a church. In a volunteer program. They do it for fellowship. They do it because they are proud of their program and to be members of this church. They do it to minister to each other and the greater community at All Saints. And I burst with motherlike pride every time they sing.
These young men are caretakers. I watch as they love on each other in the socially acceptable ways that they show love. They fist bump. They give a simple hug. They call each other brother or other names of their generation that show brotherhood. I watch them take care of each other. I watch them hang their heads in deep thought over a sermon that some kids wouldn’t bother to listen to…and certainly not on a Sunday morning. I watch them cheer each other on as the other auditions for a solo. I watch them as they help their brother in a wheelchair and love him to pieces. These young, tender hearts, are a breath of fresh air in the stormy, stinky air of our nation right now. My heart gets soft just watching the future right in front of my eyes. So much potential. So much to look forward to. Such compassionate leadership. That is what I need to see.
I have so many parishioners ask me how I get so many boys to be in the choir program. The numbers of male singers has more than doubled over the past few years. Although I can take some credit, much of it is because of them. Of who they are. They are the kind of young men that you want for sons. And I cannot express how much I love them and working with them every week.
So as I get up at 4:30 to fry up pounds of bacon, brown up sausage, make the gravy, scramble the eggs, make the biscuits, and throw it all in my car and bring it to Sweetland Hall, it is all for the love of these young singers. Love comes in different forms. And for them, it is straight through their stomachs. For me, it is the pure love of working with teenage boys. Not everyone might find the joy in that. All I can say is, “You have never worked with these boys.”