Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Light Musings

While on my parkway walk this morning I had a "Kodak" moment but no camera! Coming up on my right was a wooded road, and as I looked that direction I could see the sun rising. As I approached a favorite tree at the intersection I saw a large beam of sunlight streaming near it. Then I saw another similar beam nearby. I backed up and positioned myself so that the tree, a hackberry whose branches ascend in the shape of a chalice, was centered between the two beams. It was really cool.........and no camera!!
The sunlight triggered a recent memory of watching part of the movie Ghosts. If you have not seen it, near the end is a scene where the main character finally "goes to the light" after completing unfinished business. I have read and heard much about the experience of tunneling to light following death. This morning I pondered the idea of not going to the light, but riding it. Interesting idea..........surfers ride waves and Harry Potter rides a broomstick........I suppose we can "ride" emotions at times. What does it mean to "ride the light"? To me it is connected to becoming Christlike and literally being pulled to the light as light attracts light. Maybe it is riding the light........what a ride that would be!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Vocal Percussion

Several years ago Fort Wayne Philharmonic performed Bolero by Ravel. My memory of that performance is of another very embarrassing moment. A very long moment, as I recall.
Bolero opens with lengthy woodwind solos accompanied in part by soft pizzicato in the strings, including the violas. The piece is virtually one very long crescendo, and it is quite a while before it even begins. Time seems to drag on forever in the strings because the pizzicato notes are very repetitive.
The viola section was placed directly across from the first violins, where the cellists usually sit. I was sitting third chair, which meant that I was near the front of the section and on the outside, near the edge of the stage (no, I did NOT fall off!). The audience could see me quite well. As the piece slowly advanced I began to feel a tickle in my throat--one of those tickles that means an approaching coughing fit. You know.....a light cough that crescendos into spasms, choking and a purple face.....the kind that gets you politely kicked out of a concert.........of which I was a part at that moment! I had no cough drops (never go on stage without these!!!!!!). How to control this, I thought. About the only option at the moment was prayer...........
I tried SO HARD to stifle the coughing!! I probably was getting quite red in the process and surely annoying the audience. I was absolutely mortified. There was no hope of a loud moment in which to get one really good, loud cough out. And no place to hide. What I would have given for that!! Instead .........things got worse. The woman behind me caught my cough and we alternately punctuated the accompaniment with our "lovely" squawks. It was just AWFUL.
The music eventually got loud enough for some strong coughing and the tickle disappeared. Now I ask.......what was I supposed to do?! I have wondered since then what someone on the edge of the stage should do. Whatever it is must require lots of courage because EVERYONE will see you get up and leave. And do you dare come back?? I have never asked someone what the proper protocol is, probably because I have not wanted to remember the incident. I suppose it would have been better to just leave......one short, big distraction rather than several annoying small ones! In any case, I was virtually frozen in cement from embarrassment. There was no way I would have moved!!
I lived through the experience and kept my job.........PHEW! Maybe someday someone will discover a cure for these annoying coughs.....in the mean time ALWAYS CARRY COUGH DROPS.

Wait.........one more thing.......my sister just e-mailed me about a YouTube video that complements this blog entry.........."The Coughing Polka" (Igudesman +) Yes.......Yes......

After the Coughing Polka, be sure to watch something even better....The Cyber Conductor. VERY funny!!!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Best Gift

My father died when I was seven years old. He was born with a heart defect; my mother referred to it as his "funny heart". In 1956 my parents traveled to Boston so the funny heart could be fixed, and my dad became one of the first people to have open heart surgery.
A year later he died suddenly from a heart attack. The following morning my mother called my sister and me into her bed and told us that daddy had "gone to heaven". Sometime later we were sent off to stay with extended family while she dealt with the aftermath.
My mother continued our relationship with my dad's family, even after she remarried to another fine man. My grandmother and two aunts (my dad's sisters) loved us and occasionally shared stories about my father. The aunts, unmarried schoolteachers, had time to spend with us during vacations and shared themselves and many art and music skills.
During my teen years I remember wondering where my father was. I was raised an active member of the local Methodist church and I believed in God, heaven and hell, and right and wrong. I assumed my father must be in heaven because he had not been bad enough to be in hell, but had he really been good enough to go to heaven? I did not have strong answers.
In my early teen years I began praying at night because I was so unhappy. Teenage growing pains, I guess. You know.........I like so and so but he does not know I exist, and what is wrong with me, and nobody likes me, and so forth. I was also still adjusting to family changes from my mother's remarriage. Seems funny now, but I was quite miserable at times. The prayers continued for about two years because I did not know where else to get help.
Early in my freshman yea, at age fourteen, I had what I term a "spiritual wake-up" during my Sunday School class. I only remember a few things. My mother's best friend was teaching, and she was what I call a spiritual seeker. She studied the Bible and tried to be a good person. She was trustworthy. That day she taught something about the belief that each of us is beautiful in God's eyes. Something about beauty and God, I believe. I felt a feeling come over me I had never felt before, and I knew it was the Spirit. I do not know how I knew this---I just did. I immediately knew that God was real, and I was happy. It was the most wonderful feeling! When I got home I cleaned my room because I wanted to, which was not like me at all. I was nice to my sister because I felt like it....another first! The Spirit changed me. I knew that there was such a thing as a spiritual level. I told my mother about my experience and she did not understand, but she said that my father had felt this way.
I could not keep the feeling with me. During that year and the rest of high school I only felt it a few times. When I did it gave me comfort. I could also think more clearly. I remember feeling the Spirit once when I was doing math homework; it went much better than usual and I did not make careless mistakes.
My first two years of college were spent at Stephens College, a girls' school in Columbia, Missouri. At the beginning of my freshman year I attended a nearby Methodist church. The church was very large and I had trouble breaking in socially. I felt very uncomfortable and soon stopped going.
At the beginning of my sophomore year I decided that I had to make more friends. This was very difficult for me and I turned for help in a book that my mother had given me. It was religious in nature so God was still in my life to some degree. I had changed my major from music to science, and there were two science majors across the hall from my dorm room. I forced myself to visit them and began a friendship with Heather, who was in my Geology class.
As the year progressed I forgot about spiritual things and wandered from where I had been. After some worldly experiences in January I began to ponder atheism, God, and popular opinions of the time. One day in February or late January, while listening to the radio, I had another spiritual experience. I felt the Spirit come over me again. The phrase "pricked in the heart" describes it well. I immediately remembered my knowledge of God; it was refreshed. I also knew that what I had been thinking and doing the past few weeks was wrong and that I wanted to change and not be like that anymore. The only definite commitment I remember is that I decided never to drink (alcohol) again because it was stupid.........just dumb and wrong. Not for me!!
Not long after that Heather asked me if I wanted to join her during a discussion with Mormon missionaries. I asked her about the Mormons and what they believed and I said no. I found some of the teachings offensive, such as the idea that the Mormon church is the only "true church". I did not believe any church had more truth than all the others. Two or three weeks later Heather asked me again. This was her last discussion, she said. She did not want to join the Mormons, but the missionaries were so nice that she had continued to meet with them. Maybe I would be interested? OK, I said. And so I went...........her last discussion and my first.
Here were answers to my queries. For example, this church believed in giving members the gift of the Holy Ghost, which meant that I could have that Spirit with me more. I also learned about the belief in three general "levels" of heaven. This really caught my attention; I remembered my question about my dad and felt good about what I was learning. It felt right. I also learned that all of us are children of God and lived with Him before we were born. As I contemplated that teaching I felt liberated, something I can not explain. I prayed, read and worried about the Book of Mormon..........it was either really good or really bad. If the book was written under inspiration, then the claims about Joseph Smith were true and I would have to be baptized a member. If this church was the "true church", meaning the original church of Jesus Christ restored, I wanted it. Who wouldn't want the best?
In short, I decided to join after two weeks of discussions. When I had visited Stephens a couple years earlier I had a spiritual impression that something of religious significance to me would happen while I was there. I believed this was it.
My best gift is membership in this church. I received the gift of the Holy Ghost and I have had that Spirit in my life much more than before my baptism. It has also witnessed to me that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) is the true church it claims to be. The knowledge and experiences I have had from the Holy Ghost have given me the strength to keep my commitments to live the standards of the church. I can not explain this; I just know it works.
In retrospect I believe that the early death of my father.... and both grandfathers and a favorite uncle....have brought blessings into my life. I have had spiritual questions I might not otherwise have had. I have had incentives to search for answers. I have a strong desire to see these people again and I am seeking them out through doing family history. I have had many enriching experiences that the "world" can not give.
Part of faith is moving forward. I am working on this, although it is hard for me at times! Early in my life I lost almost all my close male adult family members. Now I am surrounded .........a husband and three sons .....four to "replace" four.......and their friends......and a male dog......Hey.........where are the women??!!!!!

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In addition to being a violist, I am a wife and mother (three sons). I dabble in writing, handwork, sewing and photography.