WHY YOU'RE NEVER TOO OLD OR BROKEN, BUT CAN ALWAYS BEGIN AGAIN
When I was a student at Edinburgh University I cleaned the Quaker meeting house to help make ends meet. I loved that job- it was so simple. I was left on my own- to hoover and mop- a place that never really got dirty. The Quakers I met were kind. So my family and I went on Sundays to their prayer meeting. It was peaceful- for an hour the children played in a nursery. Whilst the adults sat in silence. Occasionally somebody would stand up and say a few inspiring words. One time a kindly looking woman in her 60's stood up and said:
It's the cracks that let the light in.
These words stuck in my mind. They would come back to me years later. After things fell apart. But before that I graduated from University and trained to be a teacher. Drawn by the thrill of new beginnings we moved to a small school in the New Forest. I wanted a quiet pace of life where my young family could grow together, as part of a supportive community. So we moved to Ringwood- with woods, streams and the sea on our doorstep. I loved the New Forest- we got a dog, we made fairy houses in the woods- my daughters ran excitedly, with nets and buckets in hands to catch fish in the local stream. At night we huddled around a wood burner, drank hot chocolate and shared stories and songs.
12 years later when I suddenly lost my job and my marriage ended- this world cracked. We sold our house- and I moved into a tiny flat. The children lived with their mum, as did the dog, the cat, and the photos of a life built over 21 years. Standing in the wreckage-unable to put back the pieces- I had no idea of the journey ahead.
I wasn't scared, at first. I was shocked. There was a little bit of money left over from the house sale- I wouldn't starve. But what would I do? My eldest daughter was at University. I was free for the first time in years. Would I travel in India, and study yoga in an Ashram? Or teach English as a foreign language in Costa Rica? I day-dreamed about these ideas- but what I really wanted was a purpose- a mission, a calling. I knew I didn't want to travel aimlessly. This wouldn't satisfy me. I wanted to to use my gifts in the best possible way. I wanted a life with meaning. But how to get this? If you've ever asked yourself- what was I put onto the earth to do? Then you know what I'm talking about.
The day after quitting my teaching job an idea popped into my head- 'start a choir in the local cafe.' There was already group of Mums from the school that met and sang. But they didn't have a leader. The old one had just left- so the group was leaderless. Now, I hadn't run a choir before- but I have always sung. I play guitar, fiddle, and can bash out a few chords on the piano. I knew- in my bones that I had to take this choir. So I made a poster, and advertised in the school newsletter. This was the beginning of 'Forest Song'. A wonderful community choir- beautiful and supportive friends singing and sharing together.
This was the first ray of light to shine through the cracks. I now had a mission- Learn how to be a choir leader. I practiced every day. I studied the piano. Each week I learnt all the parts to one song. I would teach one new song a week. I only had to stay one song ahead. I knew I could do this- learn one song a week, and teach it the group. That's how I started Forest Song.
I now run 6 choirs and music groups. As more light streams through my cracks, new opportunities arise- things I never imagined.
The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially. If you are none of these you can be sure that it will kill you too but there will be no special hurry.