Now that the COVID-mania of 2020 and 2021 seems to have lifted, I want to live life instead of watching it happen. Doing, instead of being in the audience, is my thing. That’s why I joined the choir in my church – I didn’t want to just watch other people sing; I want to be in on it too! Why be a spectator?
I’ve made strides toward more living, less watching before. When I first moved into my house in December of 2016, I moved my circa-2000 television with me. That thing was an old bulky set – definitely not a flat screen. The remote control stopped working sometime in the late 2010s.
I worked around it by actually getting up to change the channel, like in the 1970s. I started watching less and less television over the years, and I decided once I moved, I was going to put that old wreck on the curb and run an experiment: how long can I go without a TV in the house?
One of my favorite blogs, Maggie’s Farm, publishes the gospel message from the lectionary each Sunday. I’ve always loved that. Maybe I should do that? At the very least, I can send you over to Maggie’s for the gospel lesson today. And stick around and read more from the group; for a bunch of Yankees they aren’t bad:
My quest to draw closer to Jesus continues, no matter where I go. At times I’m very good about devotions in the morning, praying and reading my Bible; most of the time, I honor daily devotions in the breach by thinking about it for a few minutes. And then feeling guilty. Every time I deviate from my ideal I realize that I’m falling away from relationship with the Lord. He doesn’t move away from me; I’m the one straying. That’s one of the reasons I’m so grateful for the Anglican Book of Common Prayer. The structured Morning Prayer, Evening Prayer, and sometimes Compline have been a super way to keep me praying, reading Scripture, and spending time with God. Not that I do them all the time. Like I said, I’ve been much better at observing them as something I should do.
When I discovered podcasts devoted to morning prayer, I was thrilled. Finally – a way to listen to Morning Prayer while walking my dog! (Usually, I’m listening to something that isn’t filling my head with good news.) CotA’s church plant, All Souls, created the wonderful 10-minute podcast Lord, Open My Lips and I use that. Another way I’m focusing on God is to go to the Wednesday morning Eucharist our church offers. I’d been off and on, but on my birthday last October, I decided my goal for the next year was to go each week. I’ve been more often than not and I’m keeping on.
It’s not usual to find an Anglican running around in my part of the South; anybody seeking out liturgy is usually an Episcopalian. Most of my friends today in Columbia are Southern Baptist. That only makes sense, because 1) I spent 20 years in a Southern Baptist church, and 2) the top three religions in South Carolina are Baptist, Methodist, and SEC Football. But over the years my spiritual journey, ever since I was 12, has led me to going to where I truly think the Spirit of Truth is. I felt that in my time with Wesley Monumental, with Lamb’s Chapel, and then RHBC. Right now, that is in the Church of the Apostles, a member of the ACNA. In my Apostles 101 class I loved how our past Dean (that’s a fancy Anglican word for the head priest at the cathedral church of the Diocese) described the church: the place where the Scriptures are rightly taught and the Sacraments observed. At least that’s how I remembered the saying. And everywhere I’ve gone, I’ve been looking for a place that carefully paid attention to the Bible and actually believed it.
I think I’ll end my journey written journey here, with part 7. It is, after all, the perfect number.
This is the next-to-last post in this series. If you need to catch up, just look at the previous five weeks of posts!
It started with an Excel spreadsheet. Wait: before the Excel spreadsheet, there was an unfortunate administration change at my old church. RHBC’s beloved senior pastor was retiring after a long career. And the new guy was (is) hard-charging, young, enthusiastic, with clear vision and purpose. Unfortunately, his vision didn’t include the outstanding choir director who had led our choir for the past 10+ years. After he was shown the door, I waited until Christmas, to sing in one last Christmas cantata. (I wouldn’t have done that again to witness the chaos resulting from a choir that wasn’t fully in sync with the director and vice versa – missed cues, botched songs. Ah, schadenfreude!) I waited some more, thinking we’d get a new permanent choir leader and everything would start afresh. When that didn’t happen, and the temporary director became the director, my last day was Easter Sunday 2018.
Here’s where the Excel spreadsheet came in. I put together a list of the requirements I was looking for in a church and decided to start visiting around. Here’s what I put them on a spreadsheet:
this is the second part of a series. The image above: Noah’s Ark by Edward Hicks
Believing was so simple, so pure when I was a child. God said through the Psalmist he who had clean hands and a pure heart would ascend the hill of the Lord. And I wanted that.
“…Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”
I think the first scattering doubts crept in when I read a child’s version of the Epic of Gilgamesh. It had to be around fifth grade, maybe fourth. This volume was published by Disney! It had to be okay. Disney was practically patriotic in our house. Some of the only television we kids were allowed was Sunday night’s Wonderful World of Walt Disney.
There was a character in the epic named Ut-napishtim. In these stories from Mesopotamian mythology, he survived a great flood by building a ship to transport his family and some animals. Hmm….
I was a conscientious kid who loved going to church at Virginia Wingard Memorial United Methodist Church. My favorite parts were singing in the children’s choir and looking at the beautiful stained-glass windows when the sermons got boring. The windows depicted the life of Christ. As I remember there were seven or eight on each side. His birth in a stable was shown in the first one on the right, leading to his baptism by John in the next window, and so on down the right side and around to the left, culminating in his first resurrection appearance (or was it his ascension? I think that was it. I’m having trouble remembering) on the left closest to the front. Those stained-glass windows were an education in themselves, helping little kids who couldn’t pay attention to the sermon the basics of the faith in beautiful colored pictures that shone gloriously when the sun hit them just right.
I just looked all over the web for pictures of those beautiful windows and the best I can do is an image of someone’s wedding, when they aren’t even the focus. Besides, in 1990 the church redid the interior, changing the pew alignment, the choir arrangement and the color of the walls. Those windows will have to live on in my imagination. Because I can’t find a picture of that beautiful stained glass of my childhood, the header image is something just as glorious: the stained glass at Sainte-Chappelle in Paris. Be sure to click over to the site for the tour.
Learning to sing
Back in the early 70s kids’ choirs everywhere were singing “Do You Hear What I Hear” at Christmas. We did it for a big extravaganza presentation with the combined children’s and adult choirs. Our adult choir director and director of music, for many years, was Dr. Richard Conant, RIP, a wonderful singer, professor of voice at the University of South Carolina, and founding director of Carolina Alive.
I’m still not sure whether a Homeowners Association is a blessing or a curse. On the blessing side: our HOA has an all-volunteer board of neighbors who care enough about the neighborhood and keeping it nice to donate their time. On the curse side: I have to go to meetings of the HOA board. And then there are the rules which sometimes seem picayune. Tonight one of the board members was trying to tell everyone that no one should be able to plant flowers by their doors, because that didn’t promote a uniform look. Good grief! One of the board members has a virtual Garden of Eden right outside her door, so that suggestion didn’t go over too well. My next-door neighbor grows irises which shame me daily. She takes such good care of her property while I pat myself on the back for keeping the bushes trimmed down. And she’s 92, which doubles the shame.
But that HOA does manage to keep our fees low – and it made sure all the houses were re-painted five years ago. So, let’s call the HOA gift no. 23.
Today I got an unexpected birthday present … about 7 months early.
My dad gave me the Queen of Mixers … the Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer. In cherry red. Picture to follow. As well as many cupcakes, cakes cookies and breads.
He asked me a week or so ago what type I would like, and I thought he was planning to make this a birthday present for me later this year. When he called earlier today to tell me he and Mom were coming over with a present, I thought, oh, no, you didn’t. Then I burst into tears. Unless you cook, you just wouldn’t understand. It’s the Cadillac of mixers.
….somehow that doesn’t sound as romantic as “and all the ships at sea!” That was the phrase radio announcers of yore would use in welcoming the listening audience to their program.
The past week and a half has shown me that if I don’t write down my blessings each day then my attitude takes a plunge. I’ve seen and experienced quite a few blessings over the last few days … but the time to write them down has been elusive. (One more whine, then I’m done kvetching: when I come home from work, the last thing I want to do is sit in front of another keyboard and monitor.)
But there have been many blessings. And it’s time to make lists again….because not doing so has made my last week and a half a grumpy, out-of-sorts experience.
Blessing 17: Stepping outside tonight on my way to run another errand, I stopped and truly saw the gorgeous deep blue sky, half-moon and stars. It looked like Van Gough flung his paintbrush around South Carolina.
Blessing 18: Today was a beautifully warm (79 degrees!) yet breezy day. About 3:30 I was tempted to tell my boss we all needed to shelve work and go outside to fly kites. It was that kind of day.
Blessing 19: Last week I was grateful for my 25-minute commute to work, cause it gives me a chance to sing along to the radio. When the drive is almost all Interstate at 65 mph, and practically no stop and go traffic, then commuting is a pleasure.
Blessing 20: Saturday, Feb. 25, I participated in my first 5K walk of the year. I was expecting to take 75 minutes to finish, since I’ve never been able to sustain 3.0 mph on the treadmill at the gym. But I finished in 55 minutes. Yea me!
Blessing 21: A purring kitty who loves to sit by you when you’re at home.