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Sunday, March 31, 2013

Good Friday*

I should be ashamed of myself, I suppose.

I attended Easter Vigil with my family and sat up front, as is our custom.  I'm a cantor, but because I'm generally working Easter Sunday, I don't get scheduled to serve.  I was not prepared for what I saw and heard.  Up stepped someone who doesn't serve more than once or twice a year for regular Masses but is first-call for all the weddings and funerals at our parish. She started to sing the opening sequence, an extended piece that is supposed to set the tone and in part explain what the service is about. I'm not trying to be catty, but her diction (to be kind) was fuzzy. To make matters worse, my back was seizing up and I was in somewhat less than intense pain.  I was NOT in the mood to sit through two hours of ritual.

But this wasn't all about me, as the priest gently reminded us in his homily.  Rather, it was about the three young men, all from one family (!!) who were being confirmed that night, joining the Catholic Church.  We even had the honor of being present for the baptism of one of them. Reason for celebration?  I should think so.

It's days like this that I think about people who aren't here, and how my hope lies in seeing them in heaven again some day.  My father would have been 86 on Tuesday, and I am taking a class in Bibliography of the Sciences, Technology, and Medicine this term, not only for the reference information but in his honor.  Dad was an industrial chemist, working for what became Pfizer more recently. All the stories I heard from friends and co-workers were about loyalty and integrity--and I don't need to tell you those are qualities sorely lacking in people from all walks of life.

The other person I thought of when I visited her home church again today.  I had a three-service gig at Wayne (PA) Presbyterian Church, and as one of the assistant pastors shares her last name, I was hoping she might have come home for a visit. Last I knew she was on active duty as a Navy musician, leading the jazz band at Great Lakes Naval Training Center. It would be perhaps a little awkward, since we haven't seen each other since the weekend of my brother's wedding in 1988. But still, I have fond memories of playing in WMU Symphony Band and in a brass ensemble working with composer John Rutter.  For years I sent her birthday and Christmas cards, using a picture of Mr. Rutter in one of his more exuberant, insistent moments (I'm being kind) and adding an appropriate caption.  God, I wish I'd saved that picture.  Anyone out there with a copy?  It's from the Holland (MI) Sentinel, late March or early April 1986.  He's rehearsing a choir at the Hope College Recital Hall. Ann Greenhow, if you're out there, contact me, if only to say hello and tell me how you're doing.  Every time someone asks me to remember the troops, I think of you, Dave Haglund (US Marine Band), Darryl Buning (US Army Band), Roger Oyster (US Marine Band), Greg Wirt (Coast Guard Band), Nancy Vogt (US Air Force Band), and everyone else who's performed in service of the USA.  Thanks.

He is risen.

Cheers!

*--Gustav Holst, from Choruses (6) for Male Chorus and Strings, opus 53 #2, H. 148, 1931.
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