Not literally, of course. If you sing while swallowing medicine it might be impossible and certainly be messy. But when you’re going through a hard time, or you are attempting to forget about something causing you pain, or you are bored to tears on a long drive and need something to occupy yourself with and reading makes you carsick, singing helps.
When I was giving birth the first time, not wanting to rely on medicine I turned to hot water and Lamaze breathing and singing to take my mind of my baby’s journey to the new world. When the lab technician is drawing blood, which makes me faint if I think too much about it, I sing. And I don’t have a decent voice, can’t even hold a tune much less hit the high notes.
When I want to feel connected to my Mother, I sing “The Old Rugged Cross” — a hymn she sang on every road trip through the south that was our annual vacation. (After all, who wouldn’t want to tour the Vicksburg cemetery every single year of their life?) As soon as I start, or hear someone else sing that hymn, I find myself back in the backseat of that Pontiac, fighting over space with my little brother and wondering “how much longer”? and if Dad will ever really stop for a bathroom break or continue saying “darn, I just missed it” past every exit.
And when I visit a new church to check it out, the preaching may be important but it’s the songs they sing that let me know if it’s a place where I will feel at home. Growing up going to church Sunday morning, Sunday night and, often, Wednesday night service plus Choir practice every week embedded Southern Baptist hymns not only in my brain but in my very bones, and hearing those hymns brings me home.
I’m not a music person. I rarely listen to music at home or in the car, preferring books on tape or podcasts. I can count the number of concerts I’ve attended on my hands and I’ve been attending them for 40 years. But I do love to sing.