feeling appreciated and more visible



Recently, I have noticed that I am feeling very appreciated. Intellectually I can usually come up with this notion. But emotionally, not so much. My own criticisms and assessments of myself and my work tend to drown out compliments, though I try to receive them graciously.

But I have noticed that at church the arrival of two new staff people has affected me to some extent. We have hired two new curates. Curates are sometimes called “baby priests.” They have just graduated from seminary. They will soon be full fledged priests (ordained). A curacy is a first gig, almost an internship but a bit more official in the eyes of the community.

So our staff at work has shifted significantly. These two curates have replaced two other staff positions. Previously we had a director of religious ed and a part time assistant priest.  Now the curates will  be helping out in these areas. Jodi, the wife, will be primarily responsible for family ministry and Hispanic outreach. Christian, the hubby, will emphasize campus ministry. Both will preach as deacons and then officiate at Eucharist once ordained. This is a tremendous relief to my boss. She mentioned to me that despite having assistants she has been “on call” for eight years. She said she wouldn’t recommend it.

I take delight in my boss’s relief, that’s for sure. Christian questioned me closely about my musical experience. He seemed to value my eclecticism and openness to non-classical Anglican church music. In fact, when we talked around the table, my boss emphasized the breadth of my abilities and leadership. It was a flattering moment.

I was flattered again when in the course of each of us on staff sort-of telling our story about how we came to be in our jobs, my boss included me in the first breath of telling how she decided to continue as rector: “Then Steve came on board and I decided to stay” or something like that.

I was also very satisfied to hear that when my substitute organist accidentally stopped accompanying the closing hymn one verse too soon, the congregation simply went on without her. Yes! Rev Jen also passed on that people missed singing the psalm in my absence, since we decided it would be simpler to say them when there is a substitute organist. Accompanying Anglican chant is a bit a specialized skill. Congregation members expressed concern that we continue singing the Psalm. Again, Yes!

My dentist pointed out to me that at this point in my life it must be satisfying to be part of an organ project. I readily agreed and added that the fact of just serving in an Episcopalian congregation is a treat at the end of my career (such as it is, I really don’t think of myself has having a “career” just a great life).

Then yesterday I stopped at the Holland Area Arts council to pick up charts for an upcoming Holland Symphony gig I have been asked to play. This in and of itself is a big deal for me (being asked, thanks again, Rhonda!). Also the Holland Area Arts council has always been sort of hostile territory. The people who organized the dang thing in the first place were my neighbors for a while but have never seen fit to include me in any of the music stuff there. They tend to use only Hope connections. Makes sense.

Anyway, I realized how weird it was for me to be going into this building. Then next to the Holland Symphony office a voice from another office rang out. The Holland Chorale manager is a former choir member of mine. We chatted each other up for a while.

I left thinking my life is changing a bit. I think I’m a bit  more visible than I used to be.


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