Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Sing a New Song to the Lord

This week is the first week of the "spring term." There is, however, a smattering of snow on the ground, left from the last weather event. ( I wonder what the weather is like at Southern?). This semester I am trying to serve too many masters- the master of taking the courses you need, the master of trying to not have any evening classes, the master of my family needs me too, and the master of the gas tank. The first three masters won, and so I am officially earning my new self-proclaimed moniker of asphalt warrior, driving five days a week. The good news is I have no Monday or Tuesday morning classes. I have no Friday afternoon classes, but.. I am driving five days a week. Today I thought I was personally fulfilling the old postal service motto of " Neither rain, nor snow, nor dark of night will keep us from our appointed rounds." It was still a little dark when I left. And it was lightly raining. As I got closer to getting on the PA Turnpike I must have crossed a zone on the weather map ( like in someone's world I am in the snowglobe and it just got shaken). It got really windy, the temperature dropped ten degrees and I really thought I would get blown right off of that bridge over the Susquehanna River. Then I looked ahead and saw a ladder laying in the road ( apparently it blew off of a contractor's truck because he was backing up along the shoulder). Missed that one. And then the snow started. Then I drove out of that into bright clear morning sun
( the blinding kind) - why did I leave my sunglasses at home? Coming into the home stretch, I know with relief that the next exit is mine off of the highway that leads me into Gettysburg. Putting my mind on auto pilot, I narrowly missed the tree that has fallen in the road. But I did.
Now, normally my drive is much more sanguine than all of that. But I hope it is not a portent of things to come. Unless I am tired and need really zippy music, once I get past the need for the traffax report, I use the time to listen to some form of "religious music"- it could be a children's chorale, a Christian rock band, chant, gospel - I am kind of eclectic. But I find that this has helped me "weather" the drive and feel that sense of "you are not alone."
On campus, it has been great to see everyone who is back, and hear their tales. And of course we are looking forward to when our classmate Brian is back in a week or two after his Dad's funeral. But after a month away, it feels good and right to be back, and for some of us much has happened in our time apart that has made rekindling the connections a real joy.
Back in the seminary choir, which has been a great way to refine how I sing, and a great way to fill the music part of me. One of my friends said it best, when identifying why this is so important- music in worship is in essence a component of how she prays. That without singing, she is not as conversational with God- she just gets kind of stuck. I had never thought of it that way, but I think she may be onto something. As I left my home church and choir, part of the separation anxiety was that I had just jettisoned a big part of my faith expression. It wasn't gone for good, I just needed to live into a new way of my life. Kind of like praying a new prayer. One is not better, one is not a substitute, it is just a different way of talking with God. The seminary choir is not my hometown choir, and neither is the group I call " the ladies that sing" but each of these is a distinct and valuable part of who I am and what my relationship with God is. To deny that opportunity for each to be that aspect would be to tell God there is nothing new to say.
This Sunday I will be back in the Country Parish. Over the break, I unexpectedly received a card signed by about 15 of them, thanking me for my time with them in the fall, wishing me well and telling me they look forward to my return. This week I think I have gotten four emails about coming back, and the song the ladies want to sing on Sunday, and feedback on the second service that they have added. Long after I am not there, I know that when I drive past the road I take off of the highway to get to the Country Parish ( which I pass every time I drive to LTSG) I will say a prayer for them as I do now.
On Wednesdays ( except Lent) my home church holds a service on the campus of the college in our town, attended by the Lutherans on campus. I usually try to go when I can. One of the girls who is a senior, has just started the candidacy process. She hopes to go to LTSS ( despite our efforts to get her to go the Gettysburg). As I have watched her have anxiety over the process, I can see where I was this time last year. Being able to be supportive rather than just saying "it will be fine" has felt good. She too will begin a new journey.
Meanwhile, my journey continues and I know I will continue to discover new songs to sing.


Ivy said...

Today's post has answered one of the questions I've had about the break between semesters. I wondered how that impacts your teaching parish. My son who lives in L. A. wants to fly us out for Thanksgiving or Christmas time.

Peace and welcome back.

LawAndGospel said...

Ivy, in short, we are in teaching parish from the second week of September ( or thereabouts) to the beginning of December. We are not expected to be "in parish" when there is not school, so for example Thanksgiving weekend. You will be done with class by mid-December. You will begin J-term right after the first of the year, but this is not a teaching parish time. You resume again with your parish in the spring term ( Feb to beginning of May). You may feel free to email me anytime ( as can anyone else) at