The weather was wonderful here in Western Michigan yesterday. My walks to the church and to downtown were relaxing. The sunshine coaxed me out of my usual reading spot inside and I sat in the sun and read waiting for lovely wife Eileen.
After she got home we walked down to the faux Irish pub we like and ate sitting outside. I succumbed and had a pre-dinner martini, my first alcohol in two weeks. I have been rigorously watching my diet and exercising ever since my blood pressure hit an all time high recently in the doctor’s office.
I was feeling smug yesterday because in two weeks I had pulled it down not only from the high at the doctor’s office (150/100) but well into recommended zones with a shockingly low reading of 110/78. I am also slowly but surely on the way to losing weight and have lost about four pounds in two weeks.
And Eileen said ONE martini would be okay. She is after all my numero uno co-dependent. Heh.
My cyber buddy Ray Hinkle seems to think that I am getting signals from Grand Rapids Community College that they are planning to pull me in to do some teaching. I remain skeptical but interested.
Holy week can be such a cynical time for me. Since I have some in depth background on the Christian rituals and their intention, it is always better to not focus too much on how they actually play out in any given situation. Not only that but church people are pretty predictable in their misbehavior around this time. I had some unpleasantness Sunday but also I was on the phone yesterday trying to reinforce mental health in a climate of anxiety and self-absorption.
My dead mentor Rabbi Friedman taught that pathological misbehavior was often the result of success in challenging the system to grow and mature. This disruption naturally causes the system to attempt to reassert it’s status quo. Never from the same quarter and hardly ever expected. This has the benefit of understanding individual bad behavior as expressions of a resistance that is present in the situation and shifting from one person to another who will act out reactivity and sabotage via bad behavior.
Friedman taught that one should learn not only to identify it but look forward to it as evidence of leadership.
Whew. My task is to not give in to my own weaknesses of cynicism, self-pity and depression. Not always an easy task.
I had a very encouraging meeting with my boss yesterday. She asked me to submit the fact that my Dec organ recital from last year was published in the April issue of the AGO mag to the church bulletin newsletter. She is calmly supportive of my exploring other avenues of employment like teaching even though she knows there is an extremely remote possible it might lead to my quitting. And she is also very supportive and insightful about how we are working out way through an unpleasant situation at Grace that will loom over my work during Holy Week.
I hate being mysterious but this public venue (public but obscure, granted) is no place to be airing the church’s dirty laundry while it’s going on. Maybe later. Heh.
So I also managed to get in organ and piano practice yesterday. Plus some time alone in the coffee shop reading and thinking.
It actually doesn’t get any better than this. Life is good. Today is the first day of the Christian Triduum. Before I arrived at my present gig, I doubt that anyone had used that word. I have gradually discussed these rituals with the boss and together we have brainstormed our way into a more coherent approach to this time.
So tonight we celebrate most of the service in the basement of the church with a meal, footwashing and Eucharist. I pointed out yesterday that as we approach program size church it will become more difficult to pull off the informal. Program size church is church jargon for changing from a smaller church where everyone basically knows each other to the size of church that needs programs and staff. Nevertheless there are ways to keep the esprit going.
I have insisted that all choirs be present at all of these rituals in an effort to underscore the community nature of Palm Sunday, Holy Thursday, Good Friday and the Easter Vigil.
This was a new idea when I arrived and of course there is still lots of resistance (see the Friedman comments above). But there are going to be some rilly cool moments. Tonight at the Holy Thursday ritual, the chamber choir will perform Durufle’s Ubi Caritas. A lovely lovely setting. Tomorrow night at Good Friday service, the prelude is a gorgeous Bach unaccompanied cello suite movement and the Chamber Choir anthem is a setting of the Adoramus Te text by Brahms.
I am glad to be working in a denomination that values intellectual honesty enough to accept my own fixed struggle with the idea of God and the terrible nature of religion in general and Christianity in specific.
Like Zappa said, the last time someone checked unlike the Bible and Christianity no one has ever been killed from applying the ideas in the Kama Sutra.
Anway, into the fray I go.