Another musician of my adolescence has died. The first concert I ever went to was Earth, Wind & Fire, and so it was with a heavy heart, and an awareness that none of us is getting any younger, that I took in the news of Maurice White’s death.
I cranked up “September” and went back to September of 1979. That fall I got a new dress, an plum-colored wrap in that wonder fabric, Qiana. I loved that dress; I felt pretty in it, or at least as pretty as any fifteen-year-old girl can feel.
My memory, as best I recall it, is of me wearing that dress to church one fine September day in Houston, and standing in the courtyard of the church after the service, a little blissed out because my crush du jour went to my church and I got to hang out with him that morning. He had no idea, to the best of my knowledge. I liked to keep my crushes secret – easier on the heart and ego, I’d found.
My best girlfriends were at church too, and someone had a tape player and the grown ups were all still inside, but there we were, gangly and dressed up in things we thought were so sophisticated, with too much blusher and mascara, giggling and spinning and singing “September” and hoping the boys would notice us.
I wonder sometimes how much my youth church experience affected my decision to go into ministry. I went to a church with a booming youth program, and I was able to do a lot of things there, and was invited to take on different leadership roles. I was valued and loved and respected. Not long after dancing in September, a passer-through asked if I’d thought about going into ministry. That question took a while to ferment. But here I am.
That church also allowed me to be an awkward, blushing fifteen-year-old who responded to the glories of worship by cranking up Earth, Wind & Fire and dancing with her friends in the courtyard.
“Our hearts were ringing,
In the keys that our souls were singing.”
But dancing with joy, with friends, with hope: maybe that’s the best response to worship, and not a bad way to receive a call.