10 Years at Grace


I am very bad with dates. I have trouble remembering birthdays and anniversaries of the people I care about. I keep getting asked how long I have worked at Grace so this morning I set out to figure it out. I found a copy of the original contract I worked out with Rev Jen. It is dated Sept 1, 2005. How about that? I can see now how very lucky I was to find this gig.


I was looking at an old resume which I prepared for an unsuccessful attempt at getting adjunct work at Hope College. It said that my tenure at the Lutheran church stopped in 2004. I quit my Catholic church job in 1999. This means I wasn’t able to stay away from church work very long. You can see from my resume that if I continue on at Grace for two more years it will be as long as served Our Lady of the Lake.

Wow. I put the anniversary date of my contract into my Google calendar. This is how I keep track of dates.

Yesterday I resumed my work at Grace with a bit of renewed energy and good humor. I attribute this to getting away for a few days and hope I can increase these with a few more days off this week.

The organ music that I practiced so hard did not go perfectly. But as I remarked to Eileen alone after church, just think how badly it would have gone without the intense prep I put in. And it wasn’t bad. I had trouble concentrating.

Between the choir pregame and the service I quietly played through the psalm of the day several times because when I rehearsed the choir from the organ I could tell that I was having trouble concentrating on it. My plan was to rehearsal the organ music before service but didn’t get to that. I think it would have gone better if I had had the chance for a last minute intense prep.

This is odd because my history is not to rely on last minute intensity like that, instead to prep steadly for a long period of time before a performance. I can remember Ray Ferguson telling me that sometimes I would be working on learning a piece thoroughly right up until performance.  He was right about that.



When I think about the fact that I have been working at Grace for ten years and remember that these ten years (and a bit before) represent a sea change in my own attitude towards and technique of practicing, when I think of all that it makes sense to me that I feel like I rehearse perform better at the age of 64 than I have ever done before.

I think I’ve mentioned here before John Hartford’s reaction when he found out he had a terminal disease: he started practicing hard. Less time left.


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