Tuesday, December 26, 2017

The Ghost of Christmas Past

If I've done the math right, my last post was before Thanksgiving.  I had all good intentions of dutifully posting each week, but maybe it isn't a surprise that it didn't work out that way.  Concerts.  Holiday lunches.  Lighting kerfuffles.  And we kept on having church every week whether we needed it or not.

It was a good season for music and worship at Decatur First.  I could write a whole post about it, and maybe I will.  But this is not that post.  Because somewhere in the middle of all the Christmas foolishness, I encountered a ghost...and it really got me thinking.

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I can't help but think if they would just moisturize...
Sometime in early December I got a distress email from the director of music over at Embry Hills UMC.  His tenor had bailed on him at the last minute, and he needed someone to sing.  Ordinarily, if someone asked me to add a Christmas concert (with rehearsal) in the middle of December, I would laugh hysterically and run the other way.  For reasons I don't fully understand, I looked at my calendar instead and saw that I could actually work the concert in.  Also, demonstrating all-too-rare presence of mind, I actually remembered to consult Lisa to ask if we had any plans.  It was all clear.

I say I don't fully understand, and I guess that's true.  But I have a couple of ideas.  First, when a colleague reaches out for assistance, I try to help if I can.  Second and probably figuring larger in this particular equation, 10 years ago I was the director of music at Embry Hills UMC, and I relished the idea of making music with some of my old friends.

When I walked into the rehearsal, it was like old home week.  I knew just about everyone.  I whipped out the pictures of the kids with Santa.  Wesley was barely born when we left, so he's grown a bit.  We laughed, and we sang.  Oddly enough, it seemed to me like not much had changed.  I fit back into Embry Hills just like a pair of comfortable shoes--the kind you never get rid of because you'll never find another pair just like them.  I met the ghost of Christmas Past...and it was me.

The concert came.  I knew fewer than half of the people in the standing-room-only crowd.  All of a sudden I was acutely aware that these days the only small talk I know how to make is inviting people to Decatur First (because inviting people to church is kindof off limits when visiting another church, and there were a handful of really awkward pauses in conversation where I typically would have said, "What are you doing on Wednesday night and Sunday morning anyway?").

That's about when it hit me.  A lot had changed.  The choir has many of the same members, but not one title in the folder was from my time there.  A decade ago I spilled blood and sweat and tears in that place, and now, all these years later, there is precious little evidence of my time there.  Folders.  They still have the black folders I got when I was there.  That's about it.  (Note to self: spend the money on the good folders...they really last).  This bothered me.  I like to think that what I do matters, and the distinct lack of evidence of my time at Embry Hills called that into question.

It was just a few days later when I got a text inviting me to lunch with a group of alumni from the Decatur First youth choir.  There were eight of them, though the group is actually much larger than that.  I found out they have a group chat called "The Gang" that they use to keep up with each other.  One of them needed to buy earrings for a girl, and he sought the collective wisdom of the group to assist, which they did (which is why they were having lunch anyway).  This group of friends came from youth choir.  I mean, I think it did anyway.  It was forged in rehearsal and on tour and on retreats and despite really lame jokes from the choir director.

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Like, really lame jokes.
This group doesn't exist around me.  I didn't start it.  I wasn't even a part of it.  It just was.  I just is.

If you look at the top of the page, you'll see that the stated goal of music ministry at Decatur First is to build relationships through music, and it would seem that is exactly what we've been doing.  If I were run over by a beer truck on Ponce tomorrow, it is the relationships that would form my legacy, not the building, and not even the choirs themselves.

And so maybe there's more evidence than I thought.  It's just not where I would have thought to look.

1 comment:

  1. Beautifully put. As Yoda said in the Last Jedi film, "The greatest teacher, failure is. We are what they grow beyond."