Saturday, February 28, 2015

Restore My Soul – Sylvia Rose

Sylvia Rose had been doing what all good teachers and counselors do, and yet it had worn her down in 1985. People who care about others for a living may often experience this phenomenon, but do they find their way out of the debilitation the way Sylvia did, with something like “Restore My Soul”? She began this rather unique experience during a visit to Fort Worth and Terrell, Texas (see map here; Fort Worth and Terrell are west and east of Dallas, respectively) 
with a method that probably other musicians have employed – music. Yet, the way this incident played out in prayer and resolved her dilemma was something she could never have predicted. After all, could she have imagined that what had driven her into such a depression would actually turn her spirit around? This episode’s result may have caused her to reevaluate her impact on the people she assumed were impervious to her influence.

Sylvia Rose was a teacher and music-maker who was in the midst of her life’s work in Michigan in the middle-1980s when she needed a break.  (Her song’s story in her own words is complete in the link below at the end of this blog entry.) She loved teaching and music, but her career had a drawback that was beginning to gnaw at her conscience. How could she persuade students to avoid choices that would cause them so much pain? She saw substance abuse and sexual promiscuity among many she was mentoring, yet seemed powerless to sway them toward healthier lifestyles, though she tried. Her anxiety-relief solution, at least temporarily, was a trip to a conference in the Lone Star state. Even so, her spirit was so low that she attended only evening sessions of the event, and instead spent the daytime with a piano at a friend’s home. Her musical-prayer times in solitude were the genesis of the song she would write – ‘Give me restoration, revival, renewal’, she cried out to Him. One evening’s conference time following her prayer seclusion gave her the results she sought, although she did not recognize its translation initially. It was young people and their many problems that had compelled her brief sabbatical, so when one of those former mentees greeted her that night with an envelope, she presumed it was another cry for help. She ignored the envelope’s contents until later that night, feeling she was too spiritually deficient to step up so soon to the counseling role again. But, alone later in bed, she discovered it was a note of gratitude and a small check from this former student. It was a light-bulb moment – here was God’s answer to her prayer! The rest, as someone has said, is history.

What does the rearview mirror look like, particularly if it follows a tough scene? Sylvia might have answered differently after “Restore My Soul” came to life. She hadn’t wasted time advising students after all, had she? At least one looked in his rearview mirror, and saw her.  Perhaps it dawned on Rose with new meaning, that she’d been a seed-planter, privy to the seed’s growth only after she’d already departed from the vicinity of its soil. ‘Occupy the path of someone He wants me to contact, although it’s not forever’, Sylvia might have said to herself. It might be just a few years in somebody’s school experience. Just be a pointer. The forever angle comes from another person who’s watching my life unfold.      

The story at the following link, the composer’s website, is the only source for this song scoop:

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