but most of all,
it’s the collective in-breath before the first sound is made,
the collective drawing upon the grace of God,
the collective, if inadvertent, admission
that we are all human,
all in need of the sustaining air, freely dispensed,
all in need of each other to get the key right and not sound discordant –-
it’s the hidden life-celebration
in the act of making a joyful noise,
As part of my weekly discipline related to Morning and Evening Prayer, I have recently resumed reading poems from The Christian Year by the Rev. Dr. John Keble (1792-1866).
Over several decades, Keble wrote a poem for each Sunday of the church year, for all of the red-letter feasts, and for many of the major and minor feast days such as feasts of the apostles and certain days during holy seasons.
The poems are Victorian in splendor, dense in imagery, Wordsworthian in structure, and wholly satisfying after several reads.
And I’ve decided that I’m going to share some of them from time to time.
Here is the poem for the Fifteenth Sunday after Trinity (which this year will be in late September, but I’m reading it anyhow):
I have spent many of my recent birthdays out of the country — last year in Vienna, three years ago in Exeter, four years ago in Prague, six years ago in Bristol, seven years ago at Interlochen (not out of the country, but in the different land of Michigan).
This year I wanted nothing more than to be home and be happy. I received a note yesterday, from the Dean at Christ Church Cathedral (Episcopal) in Saint Louis. Part of that note said “I pray that the anniversary of your birth will bring reflections of care, love, and hope.”
And that’s exactly what July 17, 2019 brought me.
I spent part of the totally July day (intense heat and humidity) at Saint Louis Zoo, wandering around with three surrogate nephews. I call them my ‘circus nephews.’ (Zoo photos follow tomorrow.)
My niece Anna works at the zoo, and I stopped by to say ‘hi’ to her.
Then after dropping the boys at their home, I stopped by Sugarfire to purchase an entire Key lime pie, something I’d been craving for a few days.
I dealt with birthday greetings from far and near on Facebook, having heard from people in Morocco, Canada, Australia, Malaysia, China, Hong Kong, Brazil, Italy, Sweden, and the USA. And as I take stock of those greetings, I find Shirley Ward, who has known me since I was six years old; college roommate Steve Davis; boyhood friend and now stepbrother Greg Herriman; Linda Hodges, sometime surrogate mom who with whose children I grew up and who was with us as my father was dying; and current and former students, people with whom I’ve made and lived theatre; people with whom I’ve sang; colleagues, friends, chums, classmates, acquaintances from around the world. This is a rich tapestry indeed!
I ran some errands and tidied my life a bit by returning things and dealing with gardening recycling.
And I cooked, which for me is spiritual and physical sustenance. The dinner menu, shared with my dear friend D., was lamb kebabs (broiled after the storm came through and squelched my charcoal plans) and homemade tzatziki, garden salad with mango dressing, and Key lime pie.
And then we sat out doors in the temperate weather and talked for an hour.
[The ground lamb, by the way, was flavored with ginger, garlic, shallot, cumin, coriander, and cinnamon, as well as salt and pepper. This is one of my favorite grilling dishes!]
Evening Prayer from The Book of Common Prayer closed out my day. Then some Downton Abbey.
Surrounded by love, reminded of love from afar, with a growing sense of newfound centeredness and qi that is positive and healthy, with new determination to right some physical and emotional listlessness . . . “care, love and hope” indeed.
1 I will extol you, O Lord, for you have drawn me up, and did not let my foes rejoice over me. 2 O Lord my God, I cried to you for help, and you have healed me. 3 O Lord, you brought up my soul from Sheol, restored me to life from among those gone down to the Pit.
4 Sing praises to the Lord, O you his faithful ones, and give thanks to his holy name. 5 For his anger is but for a moment; his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may linger for the night, but joy comes with the morning.
6 As for me, I said in my prosperity, “I shall never be moved.” 7 By your favor, O Lord, you had established me as a strong mountain; you hid your face; I was dismayed.
8 To you, O Lord, I cried, and to the Lord I made supplication: 9 “What profit is there in my death, if I go down to the Pit? Will the dust praise you? Will it tell of your faithfulness? 10 Hear, O Lord, and be gracious to me! O Lord, be my helper!”
11 You have turned my mourning into dancing; you have taken off my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, 12 so that my soul may praise you and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever.
Sunday in D.C. Humid. Overcast until later afternoon.
Choral Eucharist at St. John’s Lafayette Square. Brunch of delicious crab cakes at Old Ebbett’s Grill. Long walk to National Building Museum and the Baltimore movie theatre exhibit. Shorter walk on over to Postal Museum and that incredible stamp collection. Such history there. Cross the street to Union Station and find some pastry. Metro back to Farragut North and then walk to hotel.
Nearly four miles of walking today, and nearly 12K steps. Weariness reigns. I’m staying in and watching futbol on Sunday evening. Mr. Lincoln can wait for tomorrow. (I’ve missed him my last two trips here, and really need to say hi this time.)