Grace | Choir Tour

I've thought long and hard about what I want to write about this trip. It was almost 3 months ago already, but I haven't had much to say about it. I wish I did. We're not world-famous; we aren't the Tallis Scholars, the Concordia Choir, or Voces8, and we know that. Touring places like this isn't normal for us. We're used to singing in the choir room in our music building and we're happy working in there. Singing in a space with any reverb is a treat for us. 

And then we suddenly found ourselves singing in places like St. Mark's Basilica, Chiesa Santa Trinita, and St. Peter's Basilica. People have asked me what it was like and the best I've been able to do is say, "it was amazing" and maybe throw in a comment about something we did, like, "it was really cool to sing in the Vatican." 

"It was really cool to sing in the Vatican." 

Just looking at that sentence makes me feel like an idiot. I couldn't come up with anything else to say when people asked? The more I've thought about it, the more I've realized that the answer to that question is a big, fat "NOPE." How am I supposed to describe singing in the same church where Monteverdi and Gabrieli worked? Or visiting the tomb of St. Cecilia with my choir? Or singing in the upper basilica in Assisi, something I discovered very few people get to do? Or singing for New Years Day Mass in the Vatican? Heck, how about trying to explain what it was like singing music by Victoria in the catacombs? Some of us had dreamed of visiting the catacombs since we were little kids, and not only did we finally get to go, but we received the tremendous gift of being able to pray through music in the community of our choir. . .in the same place many of our early Christian brothers and sisters likely gathered in their own communities to do the same thing. 

Are there words to explain any of that? If there are, I don't know if any of us have found them yet. I know that I certainly haven't. I don't know how many times during that trip we looked at each other, shaking, and asked, "What did we just do?

Part of me wishes that I journaled more, took more pictures, got more video footage. . .but at the same time I'm glad I didn't write, photograph, or video as much as I usually do. Because, as is evidenced by the fact that it's been 3 months and I still have nothing to say, the harder I try to put the whole experience into some sort of tangible form, the more difficult it is to do so. 

So, I'll leave it at this. This tour was some of the most incredible 10 days of my life. I've never felt so honored, privileged, or undeserving of anything before. . .and I feel very similarly about the fact that I'm in this group in the first place. Italy already had a very special place in my heart after this past summer, but it means even more to me now that I have memories of sharing music there with my choir. Cheesy and cliche, but true.

And now, in no particular order, here are some of my favorite pictures from the trip. I'll spare you the billion selfies I took with my choir mates on the bus, even though a lot of those are also included in my favorite photos. ;)

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 After a 6:30AM wakeup call...to go wait in line in the rain for an hour and a half

After a 6:30AM wakeup call...to go wait in line in the rain for an hour and a half

When it's 50 degrees and raining and you haven't brought an umbrella, you have to be creative.

 We're 100% normal college kids: we all contracted some form of Choir Flu by the end of the trip, I left my music on the bus the day we led Mass at the Vatican, half of us weren't prepared for the rainy Venice weather, we studied/rehearsed (and jammed to our acappella pieces) on the bus, and #lostenberg proudly demonstrated his excitement to see Pope Francis. 

We're 100% normal college kids: we all contracted some form of Choir Flu by the end of the trip, I left my music on the bus the day we led Mass at the Vatican, half of us weren't prepared for the rainy Venice weather, we studied/rehearsed (and jammed to our acappella pieces) on the bus, and #lostenberg proudly demonstrated his excitement to see Pope Francis. 

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I love this photo of Marcela. Everyone in the background is busy taking photos on their phones and she's just enjoying taking it all in. I, on the other hand, was not...ha!

Grace | Kerin + Matthew's Wedding

I've photographed these two multiple times (see here, here, and here) and I can now say with great joy that as of 20 May 2017, they are FINALLY MARRIED! 

Christin, the maid of honor. She did an amazing job keeping everything running smoothly the morning of the wedding.

"My lipstick needs fixing!"

Right before we were about to head out the door, Kerin said, "Oh, shoot! I forgot to brush my teeth!!!" Everyone in the room chuckled at that because about twenty minutes prior, Colleen (Matt's cousin) made a PSA to everyone in the room and hollered, "Everyone remember to brush your teeth and put on deodorant!" 

They had a little Instax that was passed around and by the end of the reception, there was a pile of Polaroids on the bridal party's table.

Oh, this couple. 

I'm going to gush for a minute.

These two are such a gift. Ever since I met them, their schedules have been insane. Kerin's major required a lot of complex science classes that took up a lot of her time and energy. Matt's an English major, so he's done everything that comes along with that, as well as a lot of work for campus media - video, photography, running accounts on social media platforms, etc. And of course, once spring semester rolled around, they were...you know, planning a wedding and sorting out their lives on top of everything else they already had to juggle. 

And somehow, no matter how crazy their lives may have been at any given time, they were always loving and selfless toward others around them. So many times, especially last school year, I'd drop by Kerin's apartment to talk to one of her roommates and end up staying twice as long to chat or vent with Kerin about whatever was going on in life at that moment. Kerin would usually be bogged down working on a PowerPoint or a demonstration or a paper, but would always make time to hang out and catch up for a bit.

And of course, Matt would almost always swing by the apartment - or already be there - and I would stay even later, talking to him about photography or crazy things people had done...or just stand at the counter laughing at his antics and all the ridiculous things he'd say. 

Or they'd be in the middle of making dinner or about to watch a movie and would invite me to stay and hang out. Sometimes Matt's sister would come by with a friend or two and we'd all just sit at the little 4-person table and talk about life. 

Someone at the wedding said something along the lines of, "You two bring so much peace. Even if I just see one of you from across campus, I feel like everything's okay." I agree 100% with that statement. They are so rooted in who they are in Christ and that just shone through in every aspect of their relationship since day one. Not long after they started dating, I was talking to Kerin about something relationship-related - can't remember what it was specifically - and she said, "We want our relationship to be about others. We want anyone who hangs out with us to feel included and important and to feel that God loves them." 

And let me tell y'all, they nailed it. There aren't a ton of times that I can pinpoint a specific person and say, "You showed me how God loves." Kerin and Matt are two of those people. Their relationship with each other and those around them is so loving and gentle, so patient, so selfless, so pure and sincere. They're the kind of people who make you want to better know His heart, because if a person can love the way they do, how does God love? They're the kind of people the world needs. And now they're married and the world is a better place because of it.