Tuesday, October 26, 2010

36. Found in the Offering Box

The best of what makes us human will survive as long as there is just one person left who can play music like that!
As one enters the main doors of St. Saviour's Episcopal Parish in Bar Harbor there is a locked, metal box on the wall for gifts of money to the church. The above note was found in that box in August.

From June until the end of October hundreds, maybe even thousands of tourists flock thru our doors during the week and on Sundays. Being next door to Acadia National Park and sporting an unbelievable location combining ocean and mountains, Bar Harbor is a big tourist destination. The year the town will be visited by approximately 100 cruise ships alone. St. Saviour's is on the National Historic Registry and is famous for its Tiffany windows; hence many, many people want to see it for themselves.

But there is so much more to this beautiful space than the windows. There is a profound, awe-inspiring sense of the sacred here. I have witnessed countless examples of people of many nationalities and faiths (or no faith) be struck dumb as they enter the church. The feeling of something greater than ourselves is present, and I confess to being aware of it every time I am there.
I do a lot of practicing in August and many visitors sit down to listen for a few minutes. Often they are even on their knees praying. It's a little strange to be off in my own world of the music and discover that someone is listening, and I have to put that out of my mind so that I am not distracted. Sometimes someone will quietly say thank-you as they are leaving and at times the listener will have the courage to approach me on the bench. But I never fail to see that somehow the music has comforted or transformed the listeners, even if just for a few minutes.

This posting is not about me and any special ability I might have as an organist. It is about the power and meaning of music, whether new or ancient, in this special place. How fortunate I am to be the conduit for that, and I am filled with gratitude.

Monday, October 4, 2010

35. Happy News

I am delighted to report that our daughter Emily is engaged to be married. She and Jeff have been together for almost two years and I think they are a good match. As an example, he is able to make Emily laugh in a way I've rarely seen and that is good! Bill and I are looking forward to having Jeff be a part of our family, and as a bonus we really enjoy his parents, too.

This is turning out to be one of those moments when I am acutely aware of the passage of time, of entering a new phase of life, of handing over the keys to the next generation. My head is now bursting with memories of Emily's presence in my life as well as my own two weddings. I feel as if I'm on a cloud, looking down at my life and seeing many good times, mixed with a dash of regret and some mistakes.

Lately I have been listening to Elizabeth Gilbert's Committed. She is a wise and thoughtful writer and I can only wish that I had been tuned into her sort of wisdom when I was younger. Emily is 25, and by the time I was her age I had already been married and divorced from my childhood sweetheart. When I married Bill at age 28 I was only slightly more aware of what a long-term commitment involved. We have rolled with the punches, however, and in September joyfully celebrated our 27th anniversary.

From what I've witnessed both Emily and Jeff have given much thought to their vision for a life together. Is there any way I can tell them that the gift of love is what makes life worth living? Can I speak of the importance of cherishing one another above all else? Will I be able to support them during the rough spots while encouraging them to keep their faith in each other? These precepts are what I've come to believe through experience and observation. Already I see that their love for one another is deep and that brings me great joy.

Congratulations, dear ones.