Parker is not what you would call "an open book." He keeps things close and he has to be pumped for information. He told me that for his talk he could use "For the Strength of Youth." I figured that was safe and never gave it another thought. Until he stood up in Church and announced that he had been given a topic but he had felt prompted to go another direction. He used "For the Strength of Youth" and he talked about physical and mental health and avoiding extremes- such as obesity AND anorexia. He talked about drugs and their impact here on the youth of Lehi. He did a good job, he did not embarrass us, and I didn't really think about it any more than that.
But over the week I have had several people mention that they though Parker's talk was great. They noticed that he only had a brief outline and that he spoke from the heart. They thought he presented himself well and that it was great information that they hadn't thought about in a Church way. Yesterday three people mentioned his talk, but one person took me by surprise when she mentioned that she was impressed by Parker's courage in taking on such a difficult topic and making such a strong stand. I hadn't thought about his talk in that way.
Then today Sis. Bennett, who just happens to be the Bishop's daughter, gave an assigned talk on preparing for General Conference. Just when I though she was going to finish, she said that she had struggled all week with her talk and suddenly yesterday she was impressed with what she was going to say. She talked about self-harm and self-mutilation- and had already cleared it with the Bishop. It was an in-your-face, take-no-prisoners kind of talk that you rarely hear in Church. She mentioned that she was encouraged by Parker's talk and felt the topic needed to go further.
And then the Choir had to sing. I had chosen a piece that we sang last year and was a little uncomfortable with the choice. I spend a LOT of time listening to music and pondering about what lessons we are supposed to teach through music. At the same time, I want to keep my choir moving forward musically so I try to not repeat music. This particular piece is called "Bow the Knee" and it has a powerful message. In fact, at choir rehearsal almost the whole choir had tears streaming down their faces as we practiced it.
I was just fine and thinking about the logistics of the piece. I gave the downbeat and was suddenly overcome by the first few chords. I shook it off- I had work to do! As we reached the middle of the piece, I was once again overwhelmed by the Spirit with the sure knowledge that this song, on this day, was EXACTLY what the Lord wanted. The puzzle pieces fell together. This was the message of hope for the people who were struggling with the issues that Parker and Carina had discussed. They were in the congregation and they needed to have this balm.
I was overwhelmed. I only remember a couple other times in my life where the Lord spoke so clearly to my soul. I broke down- while conducting! Luckily the Choir kept going and they were great. I'm a little embarrassed by the strength of my reaction, but the inspiration and weight of the situation came so suddenly that I could not prepare for it.
I know that the Lord loves us and wants us to be happy. He understands what we need and when we need it and He can make things happen for His own purposes. He uses music to speak and to teach. He understands our struggles and our pain and his will make it all work for our benefit and His glory- if we will let Him.