Since my first day at college, I was involved at St. Stephen the Witness Catholic Student Center. I loved that place and the ever-evolving community. As a freshman I had upperclassmen who took me under their wing. I had friends my age who were going through the same ups and downs of college life. And as I made my way through the years I eventually mentored others and took them under my wing. While the community changed, the environment didn't. It was a place of love and support and acceptance and learning.
All of those things are still in that building for me. I haven't been able to be there to celebrate Mass or join in activities for a long time, but I can close my eyes and see the details, smell the essence, hear the trickle of the baptismal font and feel the closeness of the air that hugs you into a sense of serenity. I loved worshipping there.
Mostly, I loved singing there.
I'm not the best singer in the world, but it is, hands down, the thing I loved to do the most. I don't read music so I would meet the pianist for our practice session carrying a mini-recorder to tape the songs. Then I would take it home and play it over and over to have the music ingrained in me until I could sing without thinking.
I would stand up to the microphone on Sunday morning and see a sea of faces who were there for something so much bigger than us. And I would do the same thing each time... silently pray the Memorare and ask for Mary to send one of the angels in the choir to sing for me that day. I would ask that whatever message was supposed to be given would be heard, and then I would concentrate on the words and the meaning and trust that the notes would come out right. Sometimes they did and sometimes they didn't, but regardless I always felt a connection with the community.
One year around Christmas time I had recorded a radio jingle for our local airport... it was the corniest jingle ever, but the studio I was at gave me a deal on some recording time. I had enough money from the jingle to be in the studio for one hour, and I recorded eight songs back-to-back. Each song had one take... no going back to fix it if I hit a wrong note or ran out of breath. I took the opportunity to record the songs I had done most often at St. Stephen's to share with the people it meant something to.
The song I still have people tell me they miss at this time of year was a song I would have sang today on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception... Breath of Heaven. So, for all of you from St. Stephen's that read the blog, and for all of you new friends of mine, I'm going to share my recording of it today. I know others have sang it better, but I hope you get as much out of hearing it as I got out of singing it for so many years. Just click the play button on the player below and wait a second for it to start. And remember I'm not a professional... just a person who loved the experience of sharing the moment.