Right, right, right…. some actual blogging, rather than mere links
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It was a late start, but David had made some good, strong coffee (and didn’t have to be prompted via Twitter) and I got to church in time for most of choir practice. I’d gotten word that the father of a good friend had died over the weekend, so the first thing I had to do was give her a hug and a smooch. Was surprised to see her standing at the rehearsal piano with the others, but she looked fine, and not wrecked, so it was obvious she was there for a little “getting on with it” action.
Mary handed us (yet again!) something new to look at – a nugget mined from the 1940 Hymnyniminal – and she laid out her plans for gradually differentiating the service music and even some special anthems between the 9am and 11am services. We’ll be one choir for monthly anthem Sundays, where we sing both services. This was in reaction to a growing feeling that if we’re going to sing out of different hymnals for the program year, why do we keep using the Gather service music at the early service? I’m afraid I’m one of the murmurers, but Mary clearly wants to do it this way too, so I’m happy with it as long as no one is truly bothered by the prospect of a “two churches under one roof” split along musical battle lines. I don’t think this is the case; it’s a stylistic choice and also a matter of “whatever floats yer boat (ARRRR!! in honor of The Great Observance of the Feast of the 19th of September)”
So we read through it, and although the notation was tricky and the harmony sketchy, we got through it. Our youngster, Holly, was not feeling good so she promised to go home early once we practiced. She works hard, that kid. School, and job, and yet more responsibilities, plus music.
Anyway, while practicing we were happy to see [Pirate Pete] come in slowly, with his partner [Barry Tone].
Whew. Well, what to say? [Pirate Pete] was beaten up a few weeks ago and hospitalized with skull fractures, and he sustained some kind of neurological injury. He can’t remember the attack, walks very slowly and is very wobbly, and really shaky when standing unassisted. And a few weeks ago he was a very vigorous and able-bodied middle-aged man. There was time for a quick and very gentle pat on the shoulder (again, looked very rocky). [Barry Tone] stayed with him through the service rather than taking his usual place in the choir. So that’s another choir buddy hurting. I had a long talk with [Pirate Pete] afterwards, more on that later.
A few unfamiliar faces. People trickled in. Fr. Ted dropped in (formerly vicar at Holy Innocents). A guest preacher came in, Randall Warren from the Diocese of Chicago, so we had a plethora of priests – a total of four either participating or partaking. Priests: we has them.
Here’s a picture I took of Randall a few years back, when he was counseling us at Holy Innocents through the decision to close and merge with St Nicholas:
That’s Randall on the right, talking to Mark, who still occasionally attends St Nicholas post-merger. Randall is Canon for Development and Pastoral Care, and he was on hand to preach both services and cheer us on as we mark another milestone in our growth toward full parish status. He’s both very excited about the coming building project (which seems to be nearly back on track again after a long “waitabit” ) and about what we’ve been doing.
And, he has mad preachin’ skillz. His skillz, let me show you them: no notes! Empty hand! He certainly prepares carefully – he always starts with “a laugher,” and then an illustrative example, re-states the core text, and brings in some reading from other sources that he’s done in the preceding week. And he brings it home, tying up loose ends and weaving a fabric that you can read like a tapestry, all while standing “down front” and away from any lectern.
He’s also the only preacher I’ve ever seen at St Nick’s who didn’t use the microphone, didn’t NEED the microphone, and was not ONCE interrupted by a jet on final approach to O’Hare. We’re on the flight path most Sundays, and that last point is near-miraculous.
I suspect that even had there been an overflight, he would have been clearly audible over the roar; he knows how to project and get the most out of a room’s acoustics.
The musical stuff all went along as it normally does, and we were pleased to hear that “the vicarage” has finally been vacated (long story: back rent, years of basically writing it off, need the space). So after the service, we were all invited to go over to the house (which is on a lot kitty-corner to the back of the church) to go through it and see what needed to be done.
Well, at first glance, things look pretty good – clean and nothing left behind, and maybe needing some kitchen flooring and painting. It’s larger than I thought – it has a screened patio, a funky little flat deck, a kitchen-family room with a fireplace at the family room end, a living/dining room, and a study on the first floor too, with its own entrance. Basement too, apparently (which fortunately did not flood). Upstairs, 3 bedrooms, including one with master bath. All very outdated fittings though, and only a stove remained of “major appliances.”
So the plan, since the housing market went bad, is to move programs into the house such as Sunday school, choir, and various AA/GA/support meetings. We’ll be able to use the church in the evenings again soon, as currently there’s only Wednesdays when we can schedule something and not turf one of the support meetings out. I chatted with Fr. Paul, our resident folk-musician/priest, about the possibilities and looked around as the Bishop’s Commitee did a “walk-through” meeting. The Sunday school kids are thrilled. Naturally, with so many little rooms and doors, we’re scheduling something like “Keeping God’s People Safe” training as soon as possible. The little boys were inclined to shut doors (to keep girls out) and such… so we’ll have to educate ourselves about the Proper Use of Rooms with Doors.
After I wandered back in to the church, I chatted with [Pirate Pete], who leaned casually against the doorjamb at the back – but it was more for support rather than to look cool (which he just does naturally anyway). Heard more of the story, gave more support, offered whatever help I can give. What there is of it is not a pretty tale, and there seems to be little interest on the part of his local police to investigate or prosecute… and even less interest on the part of his neighbors to come forward on his behalf, because they seem to be afraid of the consequences. It’s someone local, he thinks. Maddening to be a victim, and not know if the person who just walked past your house is a neighbor, an assailant, or both.
I was also surprised to find that he comes from way down beyond South Chicago, just over the line in Indiana. But was not too surprised to find that as far as welcoming and inclusivity (aside from some stalwart Chicago and west suburban parishes that are hard to reach for him), we’re it for him and for [Barry]. And that’s just sad. I think there might be other places, but they’re uncongenial musically or liturgically, or make them feel just a little uncomfortable. So they’re with us, and we’re glad of it. [Pirate Pete] is colorful (and has a great sense of style) and [Barry] literally anchors the choir, usually singing baritone. And it seems like it might be a good idea to use pseudonyms, since I didn’t mention the idea of including them in a blogpost to either of them. Which is also quite… maddening.
And so after traipsing around in the wet grass looking in an empty house, and eating a lot of Oreos and drinking coffee with the forum, I headed for home, started some laundry, and logged in to Second Life.
Blah, blah, blah Second Life! Is that all you ever do, Red?
Well, but… it’s fun and relaxing, and also a great way to put off chores. So, WIN.
Sundays are the day my home sim’s weekly newspaper comes out. It seems we had a panther attack, and a noble knight died well on the fields of battle and was buried in the graveyard (I’ll have to find out what the real story was, the editor may have embroidered JUST a stitch or two). The weekly Celtic music performance at the Green Dragon had been canceled on account of bleargh. I do enjoy reading the Sunday paper with my post-church coffee (that’s post RL church).
The thing was, it was your basic Sunday not-much-going-on kind of day, but then I found several fun events to go to, and one very interesting solemn event to attend. By the end of the day, I’d kind of run the gamut of Life, the Universe, and Everything.
About the first thing I did was check in at the Snail Races, which was just to look around, because they only schedule events on Saturdays. But I was surprised to find several people getting ready to run a practice race, so okay, I stayed to watch the time trials. No commentary, which made it kind of hard to follow, even with the bouncing benches that follow a designated snail. You can watch previous, full-on broadcasts (with wacky commentary and slick graphics and “camera” work) anytime online. The course is constantly changing: currently there’s a collapsing bridge over a tank full of kitty-eating sharks with frickin’ laser beams on their heads, among other things.
After watching the previous broadcast just to get the gist of where things are (It’s a couple of months since I attended Race Day), I found a really interesting venue that looked promising, New Music Live at HD Artists Hall. Or was this Saturday? In any case, New Music is mostly electronica, with a strongly classical bent, but definitely of the 21st century (often with a good beat, and you can dance to it). I ended up joining the HD Artists group just to get on their announcements list. Great stuff, nicely hosted. It’s an Internet radio simulcast, apparently, I’ll have to find out more about their stream.
If that WAS Saturday, oh well; things kind of smush togther in SL, which is why I really should keep a better journal of my doings there.
Later on, I definitely did go to church for the noon SLT service at Epiphany, and chatted with people afterwards, including my friend Cady. Also, tried not to chat with a rather strange lady who seemed to be baiting us with dark hints about being possessed by a little devil attachment. I think people took long enough to ensure that there was not a real cry for help, and to verify that indeed someone was trying to pull a not-very-funny prank.
Whatever. That’s Second Life church.
After that, I was dinking around sorting crap and stuff and treasure, and got word that my neighbor Mistletoe was having an opening party to celebrate her fall fashion line, with a DJ. Well, that turned out to be an extremely fun time had by all. The music was dub, the elves be chillin, and there was even a large but shy dragon. Wow. Talk about cultures clash. My friend Cady (yes, the one from church) threw on some medieval glad rags adn came along – we danced, relaxed, and chatted for at least an hour or more.
Then that started to break up, and I checked on the laundry and made the unfortunate discovery of a pen in the dryer – sound of anguish well up from the underbeneath! But only one top really showed signs of spots, so not so bad as it might have been.
After some reading and catching up on news, back online to see what was going on. Dancing again? Okay, the DJ is a friend and always plays great stuff. Mostly, I was reading the news and thinking about the stupidity of the American political process.
But someone dropped a surprising invitation card on everyone there – an online memorial service for a person I did not know, but whose work was known to me. So… since the invitation was open, I changed into something more subdued and less “purple haired kitty la-la girl.”
It was both heartwarming and mind-boggling; the person was a highly respected and accomplished person, in both his real life, and in his Second Life. I was able to get to an obit and was very moved by it. It was also moving to see what his online friends had pulled together – he was the creator of a very popular sim called “Diegoland” and many people kind of got their start there in music or spoken word performances – back in the days when all this was very new. I was surprised to recognize a couple of artists – visual and performance – plus there were a lot of musicians who chose to perform. Technologically, it was a major challenge to pull this off, with so many people broadcasting by “picking up” the stream from their locations scattered all over the country. Most people ‘there’ (virtually there, that is) had never met this guy in real life, but they cared very deeply for him because of who he was and how he chose to present himself in the online milieu. He was, by all accounts, a healer-knight in both worlds. And an accomplished musician, too.
There were moments of inadvertent comic relief – it would not be Second Life without an SL moment or two… one woman started to type a command as she started to “speak” at the microphone, and inadvertently sent a pretty funny chat macro, complete with sound effects. And… there was a very earnest performance by a rather good Elvis impersonator. I… well, it was heartfelt. He loved the guy so much, he was willing to perform, you can’t fault him for the effort. Most of the other musical stuff was pretty good quality, good sound. The speakers were less successful, as maybe some hadn’t really been prepared with a good quality mike for voicechat. But they tried, and just like in real life, people strained to hear. Unlike in real life, though, they did that by “moving camera” (the viewpoint can be set to see and “hear” from whatever spot you wish within a fairly large area).
It was the largest crowd I’d ever seen in one place in SL. I think the venue is on the edge of several adjoining sims, in order to spread the load. It was quite a testament to the memory of their dear friend.
I contented myself with sittinq quietly, listening, watching people, and IMing with an acquaintance, who was also invited from the same dance party. In fact, it was the DJ, who apparently wrapped early so he could attend. A couple others I knew from my groups were there, too. In some ways, SL is like a medium-sized town – depending on the hour of the day, it’s likely to be the same few people logged in…you tend to run into them at art galleries, musical events, and dance events.
So: even in Second Life, there’s death. Not just the fairy-tale fantasy of a noble knight sacrificing his life for a just cause or a lady’s honor, but the real-life tragedy of a good man gone before his time, missed by his friends.
And that makes it.. yep, 3 services of one kind or another that I attended. Plus a lot of time spent “thinking good thoughts” for [Pirate Pete]. Its a lot to process, actually. So many issues, problems, challenges, triumphs, and sorrows. And laughs. Lots and lots of laughs, even with some tears mixed in.