First, a word about this self-photo. I took it during Pastor Jeff’s interesting sermon last Sunday on the gospel lesson where Jesus says “I am the Vine and you are the branches.” As a visual aid during the sermon, Jeff had two people slowly drape the entire congregation in one long string of green cord, signifying how we are all tied together – and it began from the pulpit. I was seated at the grand piano because we were doing my folk service, and because Jeff had me sing a couple of songs during the sermon- and at first service I ended up being left out of the stringing- which was fine. But the second service “stringers” included me by wrapping me in the cord. . . so I got to play the piano while so entwined. (I felt like a hostage in a Lassie episode, waiting for the gallant collie to come by and rescue me from my captors.) So no, it’s not a strait jacket. Not even close. But after this week, I may be trading it in for one.
I am in the midst of might very well be the craziest seven days of my life. . . and I provide the following laundry list of obligations not as a boast but rather a plea for mercy. I may have a slightly crazed look in my eyes until this time this coming Thursday morning, when I will have about five hundred pounds suddenly off of my shoulders and will wonder what in the world to do with myself. But until then…. yikes.
These seven days include the last two days of classes, lessons, and makeup lessons at Carthage. . . playing for my student Zach Wolf’s senior voice recital . . . Carthage’s honors recital, for whom I’m playing for over half of the participants (and rehearsing with them) . . . opening night for “Godspell” at the RTG. . . auditions for the RTG’s summer musical . . . performing as bass soloist for the Durufle Requiem in Lake Forest, Illinois Sunday afternoon (with a three-hour dress rehearsal Friday night) . . . singing and playing for the wedding of the daughter of a school colleague of Kathy’s . . . two days of voice juries, and rehearsals for the three dozen-plus singers I am accompanying (my Sunday night rehearsals are scheduled right now to go past midnight). . . writing and administering the final exam for my Opera class. . . singing the national anthem for Gateway Technical College’s Monday night commencement. . . playing for Polly’s Tremper High School spring choral concert (plus dress rehearsal) . . . playing my folk service at Holy Communion Sunday morning. . . and if all that wasn’t enough fun, I also agreed to sign on the radio station Monday morning. You would think that a word with only two letters wouldn’t be so difficult for me to utter, but somehow the word “No” just doesn’t manage to emerge from my mouth all that often.
The crazy Seven Days began this past Wednesday, when I was cleaning off the kitchen table after we had finished having pizza with Polly, Mark, Lorelai, and Bob. As we were chatting, Polly for some reason mentioned the name of one of her choir members, Max Dinan . . and it suddenly hit me like a ton of bricks, a bolt of lightning, a blow to the gut, pick your metaphor- that I had agreed to play for Max’s grandmother’s funeral. . .which was that very night . . . . and had completely forgotten about it! I looked at the clock – it was 6:05 – grabbed the computer and brought up the email from this young man’s mom – and found that the funeral was at 7 – in Kenosha. I ran up the stairs to trade my Loony Tunes tie and denim shirt for something a little more somber and austere- and then was out the door and off to this funeral, arriving in just a nick of time. For some people, the parting of the Red Sea is a miracle. For me, the way in which Max’s name just happened to come up in idle conversation in just a nick of time to remind me of this funeral is my idea of a miracle. And if I survive the next seven days fully intact, that will be another one.