As I have mentioned in many of my previous posts, over spring break Essence of Joy went on tour to perform at various high schools, churches, and other venues in the south. It was an absolutely amazing experience, but there was one performance that stood out to me because something happened that genuinely surprised and perplexed me.
The piece Anticipation, which was the subject of one of my previous posts, is sung at the end of each one of our concerts. In it, we go out into the audience and shake their hands as we exit and sing. I’ve always enjoyed it because, for me, it is an unprecedented chance to connect with the audience.
But this time was different. Essence was performing just north of Orlando, Florida at St. Stephen’s Lutheran Church about mid-way through our tour. I was shaking people’s hands, as were the rest of the members of the choir, when I came to a woman who simply refused to accept my outstretched hand. This had never happened to me before, and I honestly didn’t know how to react. What was wrong? Was she a germaphobe? This was honestly the only explanation that I could muster, because she was looking into my eyes and smiling, but still rejected my outstretched hand. After a painful and unending 30 seconds I smiled and moved on, but that moment stuck with me.
To be perfectly honest, my initial reaction was to be offended by the woman’s refusal, but I struggled to define exactly why I had felt personally offended. It seemed like the wrong reaction, mostly because the purpose of the song has nothing to do with me, and her simple decision to not shake my hand shouldn’t have effected me, even though it wasn’t normal.
It seems trivial, and maybe it is, but it made me think about purpose. It led me to consider the fact that the entire tour was for the people that we performed for (although I definitely enjoyed the warmth). It made me realize that it is always important to consider the reasons that you are doing something, or who you are doing something for. That line of thinking can often help to establish a new perspective, and made me realize that the woman didn’t need to shake my hand in order for me to connect with her and for our performance to bring her Joy.