“What if I cannot play my guitar?”
Nicole Edwards has asked herself that.
In a voice as gentle as her eyes and the movements of her hands, she explains:
“In my life, one of my challenges is health issues.
“I have a chronic condition … Scleroderma … an autoimmune disease.”
Her questions are heard in What if, from her collection, Joy Seeker.
“My tool is singing,” she says. When she feels worried or fearful, she seeks peace and finds joy through song.
Her voice fills the room as she sings prayerfully, “Peace, be still and know that I am God.”
As a little girl, Edwards loved singing.
Her Mom sang in choirs and together they sang while berry-picking, going on walks …
Then, in her last high school year, Edwards began to share her singing.
“There’s just something in me that says share it.”
Now she shares healing songs.
“I call it singing as a tool for healing … for people who like to sing.”
By singing, shy singers may find their voice, a voice that may then spread to other areas of their life.
“It may give you the confidence to speak up about something at work … or to write that poem or song … or to raise an issue in a relationship.”
In spirited, uplifting songs and prayerful songs that are “repetitive, so you don’t have to think when you’re singing,” Edwards encourages others to turn their own affirmations into healing songs.
“There’s a real freedom … singing something simple and melodic.”
Edwards believes that “using our voice and vibrations” will stimulate a prayerful, healing response.
“When you have a group of voices together with prayerful, healing intention, it’s very powerful.
“It encourages people to be creative and, where they need support, we can give it.”
Edwards sings again, the words pouring forth in prayerful notes as her hands move expressively.
“I pray for strength … hallelu-u-u-jah, a-amen. I pray for peace … hallelu-u-ujah, a-amen.”
Each participant, in a group, replaces “strength” and “peace” with whatever they desire – “fill-in-the-blank” songs, Edwards calls them. There’s no pressure and there’s “room and space.
“If you have a tool for expressing difficult emotions, it doesn’t make them go away,” Edwards acknowledges.
“But,” she continues, “it helps you live with them.
“If I have a song, it helps me live with uncomfortable moments in my life.
All ages are welcome. “There have been babies,” Edwards smiles, her arms forming a cradle that rocks gently. “And teenagers.” Men do come, but it’s mostly women.
“Healing and peace go hand-in-hand. I think there is a hunger for it.”
A peace has blanketed the room—even as frost has blanketed the trees outside, adorning them in their still, grey world.
As for her future, Edwards says she is “OK about being in the present”.
And, what if she cannot play her guitar?
The answer comes in ways Edwards is thankful for.
“Who knew I would end up being a jazz singer, singing with fabulous jazz musicians.
“That’s pretty amazing.”
Workshops filled with healing songs – songs that seek joy and find peace – are part of that amazement.
The workshop, Singing as a Tool for Healing, is on Tuesday, Dec. 9, at 7 p.m. at the Lorne Mountain Community Centre.
One prerequisite: You must like to sing!