rambling on a snowy Saturday

When I was a teenager, I’m not exactly sure how old, I attended a National Youth Convention of the Church of God in Chicago. At this convention I learned the shocking fact that the denomination of my Mother and Father and Grand Parents was in fact half Black. If I had a been a Black teenager this probably would not have come as a surprise. But it certainly was to me. I don’t remember much except shock and anger at not being told this before. It may have been after this when I began sporadically showing up at Black Church of God communities in Flint where my Dad was a minister.

My main memory of this was doing so with a young woman who was mortified when I accepted an invitation to sing in the choir that Sunday. At least this is the memory I have. I’m pretty sure I didn’t invent it.

This memory occurred to me today as I was reading The 1619 Project. The past several years I have learned a lot about American history. Specifically the history of American racism. It has been a slow burn of anger and frustration as I filled in some of the holes in my understanding of America.

I remind myself that I don’t have to continue to identify with Christianity now that I’m not making my money doing music for its worship. Having said that, I notice that I continue to connect with the stories very actively, reading both Thomas Mann’s Joseph series and Moses, Man of the Mountain by Zora Neale Thurston. I like the stories and I like Mann and Thurston.

My battle fatigue with the turmoil in my country continues. I haven’t given up hope and I try to pay attention to how things are unfolding. Nevertheless, when I combine paying attention with learning how time and time again, white Americans have done terrible things to African Americans, Native Americans, and other groups it can be painful. However, I do want to have the information both current and historic.

But for some reason it has left me a bit shaken. Maybe this partly because I am so over sensitive temperamentally. But I do think that a lot of it is a logical reaction to the madness of now.

Music continues to help me. As well as reading both fiction and nonfiction daily.

I have discovered Sibelius’s third symphony thanks to Keval Shah’s Inside Music episode. So far, I am finding it rewarding to listen to a musician’s choice of music he or she likes and why. Shah played the second movement of Sibelius’s third symphony and I liked it and started listening to the whole symphony.

I left a bunch of Sibelius organ music at Grace because I never managed to like it. This may be one case where approaching a composer through music I can play on the piano or organ might not be quite the ticket. Most composers I love left me music to play on the keyboard. This kind of one on one with music is very much how Bach approached much of his keyboard music. Much Bach was written specifically to be played for the edification of the keyboard player as well as listeners but primarily for that wonderful moment of contact with the player and the music and the composer in a intimate beautiful connection of enjoyment.

So music does help. Today I have played some Beethoven and Haydn. My hands continue to worsen but not so much that I can’t eke out the music. I am sometimes reminded of a scene from Hesse’s Magister Ludi. It’s toward the end of the story. The music master who has taught and guided Joseph Knecht sits by himself at the piano and plunks out a Bach two part invention with only two fingers.

So this kind of hope keeps me going. That, and continually being grateful for being so lucky.

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