Friday, January 2, 2015


Please understand, I'm not complaining.

Well, alright, maybe a little. But it's subtle, and in context. Hear me out.

(Strange and interesting things happen the more you use your brain; when you think about things that you aren't encouraged to think about you can come to some unusual conclusions about them.)

Take, for instance, the so-called parable of the talents. A man goes on a journey and leaves three servants in charge of his finances. To the first he gives 10 talents, which is something in the millions of dollars in today's money, to the second, five, and to the last, a mere million or so--two talents.

If you are familiar with the story, you know how it ends. The first two servants invest the money and manage to double it (must have put it in some pretty risky stocks and gotten lucky). The third hides his and does nothing with it. Not even a passbook savings account.

The first two servants are rewarded upon the master's return, and the third is sent packing. And here's the line I thought about. Speaking to the first two servants in turn, the master declares: because you have been faithful in a few things (there's an understatement; remember it's in the millions)--because you have been faithful in a few things I will put you in charge of more things. Enter the joy of the kingdom!

Happy ending, right? Well, is it?

The reward for faithful service is to have to do it again, only now the stakes are higher? No rest for the faithful, is there?

I'm reminded of another quote, this time from the Hebrew Bible: "To those from whom much is given, much will be required." (which in turn reminds me of my 8th grade English teacher's favorite moment from "A Christmas Carol" (one of them, anyhow)--in which Scrooge asks Marley's ghost what he wants of him, and the answer is simply "much!")

Maybe I'm bringing this up because it is nearing the end of the Christmas rush and I'm pretty tired. It's been going on for a month, now. I remember reading a blog from an organist about fun things you could do for your listeners during the Christmas season with the admonition to start preparing now, and being amused because I had just gotten home from one of our big church services--choir Sunday, which came the day after the Children's Chorus had their big concert. In other words, prepare was hardly the word for it--I was already in the middle of it. And that was early December, which was already two weeks into my annual Christmas rush. Now it's nearly a month later and I'm still not finished.

Well, ok, technically the last holiday related event was our New Year's Eve concert at the Virginia Theater with The Chorale. It's a fun and unique event each year. But I'm worn out, and I'm still not able to rest. That's mostly because we have a wedding tomorrow with special organ music and a funeral about 90 minutes after that, then our Saturday evening church service. And I'm having to pull those pieces completely out of my posterior because at this point there just hasn't been any time to practice until today and now I'm also having to really watch my energy level. There will be naps between everything, I think. I'm spending today on the couch because if I stand up too long I get dizzy. And yet I still haven't gotten sick at all this semester. Is it safe to say I've made it for another year?

The number of concerts or church services or gigs I've taken part in, or more specifically, the number of different talents required to make them all work (from improvisation to sight-reading to skipping beats for singers to schlepping equipment to keeping your head amidst distractions such as when the music falls off the rack) seems overwhelming taken as a whole. They must be experienced in sequence to make them possible--that is, one event at a time, with all that is needed to make it work. I suppose the only reason they happen at all is that because I CAN do all of that I am ASKED to do it. And I like to think that the singers and conductors and actors and pastors who work with me feel secure in having me there to support their efforts as well. It is tiring. But it is a very great privilege. And I am blessed to be able to do it each year. Now as I near the finish line I hope to feel a pleasant sense of exhaustion. And I have received much thanks for it as well.

In fact, the outpouring of thanks and camaraderie I've experienced this holiday season is truly a blessing. And knowing I've been able to use practically every ability I have to make the season brighter for others is the best feeling on earth. And maybe next week, when I've had a chance to process it all, when the rush has finally stopped rushing, I'll get to really enjoy my remembrances of all those things that flew by at the time.

But I seriously need a nap right now!

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