Brandon uses this phrase a lot. After his birthday at Jump On It. After his Cold Turkey gymnastics meet a couple of weeks ago. After his 4th grade skiing fieldtrip last week. Today I'm going to borrow that phrase and say that this past Sunday was the best day ever. Bryan and I attended the Mormon Tabernacle Choir Christmas concert...featuring David Archuleta and Michael York on Sunday morning. We'd never been to the Tabernacle Choir concert before, though I'd been trying for years to get tickets. We had to get up mighty early to get down there in time. And then brave the pouring rain as we made our way from our parking spot blocks away to the Conference Center. But even that was kind of fun...to be huddled under our umbrella, hugging onto each other so tightly as we walked to try to keep as much of ourselves covered as possible. It was like we were in our own little world under that umbrella. And though the sweet little usher lady said, "Oh, honey...you're so wet!" when she saw my literally dripping hair, I was just thrilled to be there. The concert was absolutely wonderful and we had such a great time! I've always felt that the Tabernacle Choir Christmas CD's brought the Christmas spirit like nothing else...but to actually be at the concert. Well...WOW, for lack of a better word. That concert just IS Christmas, you know?
And then that night, in complete contrast from that morning, I sang for the women inmates at the State Prison. The room was bland and small. The women were all dressed in matching prison garb. We were a small group...only about 20 of us instead of our normal 95. And only our (amazing) pianist instead of our normal 20 piece orchestra. I felt awkward at first. These women, after all, had all done bad enough things to land them in prison. I wasn't scared for my safety...more just not sure where to look. I didn't know what to think of them or what they were thinking of me. I didn't want to make them feel uncomfortable. These women obviously were not excersizing proper concert etiquette as they whispered back and forth and called out comments after each song. But it was clear they were loving what they were hearing. And it wasn't long before I was absolutely loving singing to them. By the end of the concert they were in tears and begging for more. We obliged until we didn't have anything more we felt we could sing. One of them asked if we knew "Angels We Have Heard on High." We looked at each other warily...because, yes, we did know that song. A wonderful and grand arrangement by Mack Wilberg. But we were not planning on singing it because it really is better with a big choir and orchestra. How in the world could we sing it with just 20 of us? But they begged and we said yes. Tears pouring down their cheeks, they jumped up in a standing ovation and then rushed the make-shift stage to hug us and thank us after we were done. Said our coming was the best Christmas gift they could've received.
And I thought. Earlier that morning I had sat in the Conference Center and listened while the Tabernacle Choir had done that same number. It was grand and glorious...with not only the choir but a huge orchestra, a bell choir, David Archuleta, dancers, fancy lights and sets. It was truly amazing. Then just a few hours later that song was performed again in a dinky little room where we tried to perform it the best we could with just 20 of us and a piano. And yet, I have no doubt which performance meant more. Thousands of people listened to the Tabernacle Choir perform that song this past weekend...me being one of them. But I don't think it meant as much to any one of them as it did to those women prisoners Sunday night. And as one of the women got up to say a closing prayer, and thanked Heavenly Father for the numerous blessings that had been poured on their heads and asked Him to help them to be good, to keep Him in their lives so that they could could eventually make it home to be with their families and children again, I found myself with tears rolling down my cheeks.
The contrast between the two concerts was immense but they were both equally amazing in their own way. I drove home with a very full heart. It was the best day ever.