I’m sitting at the table with my new friend. All the plates and glasses have been cleared away and everyone has retuned to today’s rehearsal. I can hear the choir workshop has resumed, but we are still talking. My new friend, Jana*, and I started talking about work. She is a social worker in the Czech Republic; I am a counselor in the United States. We were chatting with others at our table during lunch and eventually, it was just the two of us. She started telling me more of her story, of a history of alcohol addiction and sobriety, of a painful divorce and the struggles of being a single mother. She continued telling me of her loneliness and how difficult it is to give her worries to God, her tendency not to pray… She was using what English she had, having difficulty finding the right words to use when speaking about such personal emotions and struggles. I can’t remember what I said to her, but I know I struggled to find the right English words to use, ones she might easily understand as I tried to give encouragement. She continued to describe how difficult it was for her to go to church. It meant taking the bus through several stops and having to leave much earlier to get there on time. I thought to myself, I really need to learn Czech, so I am better able to understand during these types of heart to heart conversations.
She continued telling me of her loneliness and how difficult it is to give her worries to God…
Eventually I suggest we return to the choir workshop. I can hear the singers practicing the songs. She agrees and we return: me to my soprano section and her to the alto section. I can see her in the front row. We are singing together, “Here’s My Heart, Lord”… I can see her weeping. After the concert in Olomouc, we speak together and say our goodbyes. She expresses her gratitude and I tell her how glad I am that I got to meet her and that she trusted me with her story and her struggles. Luckily, I get to tell her that my husband and I are moving to the Czech Republic next year and that I will see her again.
*Shared with Jana’s permission