Category Archives: family

2020 in pictures

My annual photo review of the year . . . .

Food and kitchen time. Nelson. Garden. Little travel. Hardly any family time. Nine months of no theatre. But plenty of beauty, and of love.

Random musings

I have friends who call this day “Christmas Adam.”

Tomorrow is Christmas Eve.

My Bible tells me to pray without ceasing. Nelson’s canine version tells him “bark without ceasing,” especially when outdoors with the construction guys at the house to the south. One would think Nelson would tire, but he doesn’t.

I was pondering this morning the strange fact that 24 years ago tomorrow was the last time I saw my mother. From my loft apartment in the River Market in Kansas City, I listened to the international broadcast of the King’s College service, then drove to Lee’s Summit to collect her and drive her to the airport to return to Argentina. She had been home on medical leave (and to see her new granddaughter). We parted at the airport. She died 15 months later.

What does one do with some canned mango and some blueberries in the fridge? Add sugar, of course, and heat, and some lime juice and zest. And make mango blueberry jam!

I drove to Columbia yesterday to see my sister Beth, niece Kristen, and great-nephew Leo. Nelson accompanied me. The purpose was a hug and the handoff of some Christmas decorations. I must say that this aging body does not deal as well any more with four hours of sitting in the driver’s seat of a car. I needed a heating pad and some naproxen last evening!

And Beth brought me some Cheetos. I proved yet again that this is a bad thing, as this morning there are no Cheetos.

This morning I read Morning Prayer with a special intention for the Feast of Lottie Moon, who is now provisionally included in the calendar of saints in the Episcopal Church. Lottie Moon was a Southern Baptist missionary to China in the 1800s, and to this day churches in the denomination in which I was raised gather offerings in December to support international missions. My parents were supported by these offerings.

I found the collect for today to be especially meaningful:

O God, in Christ Jesus you have brought Good News to those who are far off and to those who are near: We praise you for awakening in your servant Lottie Moon a zeal for your mission and for her faithful witness among the peoples of China. Stir up in us the same desire for your work throughout the world, and give us the grace and means to accomplish it; through the same Jesus Christ our Savior, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

I’m slowly working through several months of Sojourners magazine. This article lead by Jim Wallis caught my eye today:

WHO WOULD HAVE thought that a verse from the first chapter of the Bible would become an “altar call” for a presidential election? Here is our call to faith as we look to Nov. 3: “Then God said, ‘Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness.’ ... So God created humankind in [God’s] image” (Genesis 1:26-27).
I believe this text about the creation of humankind in God’s likeness is the foundation of politics for people of faith. It means how we treat other human beings, including our fellow citizens, is a theological matter and not just a political one. Mistreatment of our fellow human beings and citizens is also not just a political problem but an offense to the image of God, an assault on imago dei.

Here’s the full article from before the November election.

Winter is coming. I threw out the dead mums this morning, and cleaned some dead things from the flower beds.

The tree is alive with light, as is a candle at my side. Advent is almost over. Here’s a service and music for Advent, as wrap up this time of waiting for this year:

Holiday letter 2020

Dear friends and family and readers around the world,

So . . . we near the end of this year that has felt like an eternity suspended. Stop-time. Profound disruption and uncertainty.

But in these darkest days, promises of light have emerged. While we do not know the lasting-ness of the damage that Trump has done to our republic (the damage is known, but how long it will linger is an open question), we seem to have weathered the storm of the 2020 election. And a vaccine for this pernicious virus is now offering hope of a return to somewhat normal life earlier in 2021 than later.

The ache to be with has grown ever more present and powerful as the year has gone by. I posted a series of songs about touching back in April. Little did I imagine that so long would go by without the warmth of human flesh nearby in a hug or handshake. (And just after I wrote this, a friend stopped by with a yummy treat. She’s had the virus and is now safe to hug. So we did. In 30-degree weather on the porch. Bundled up and masked. And the embrace was deee-vine.).

I have worked from home for eight months now. My home offices, as they appeared in April:

Nelson

So yes, daily life has felt suspended since March, but it’s also been sustained. Nelson has brought unending joy and comfort since joining me in late May. My weekly conclave with the Saturday Supper group (Karin, Jessica, Lou and Leah) has provided welcome connection, conversation, kvetching, and loads of laughter. (Little did I know how much running away and joining Circus Harmony would change my life.) The kitchen has become my sanctuary, and I now need an intervention and moratorium on cookbook purchases.

During the warm months, my garden and a new interest in birding helped while away the days. So much new music has passed through my eyes and into my fingers at the piano as I’ve worked on building my own knowledge of contemporary musical theatre. I took four graduate credits this summer at Shenandoah University, and rebooted my voice teaching. A brief summer holiday at a farm in southern Illinois was a balm for the soul.

A view from the southern Illinois retreat.

Creativity has not slackened this year, but it has changed focus somewhat. Circus Harmony’s Fluente in January featured a number of new charts from me. And then the virus led to a September show built around the idea of “the balancing act,” for which I wrote a half-dozen new charts as well.

As the world around us grapples with inequity, inequality, and division & hate & racism & fear & so many other destructive impulses, I am attempting to own my own privilege in the face of caste and race, and actually do something about it. The first steps are the least tangible, but they are happening.

Daily Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer from the Book of Common Prayer have been a mainstay and daily fence-posts for spiritual grounding in 2020. With worship in person suspended, I bounce back and forth on YouTube and Vimeo and Facebook between the National Cathedral, St. Mary’s Bourne Street in London, Grace & Holy Trinity Cathedral in Kansas City, and local parishes.

My home altar for Holy Week.

I have finally this year dealt the last of my father’s detritus of papers and piles. I purged the basement of unneeded junk and so much choral music that I’m never going to conduct or teach again, so much has my profile changed.

And I’m preparing for my next act. As I write this weekend, I have fewer than 165 days left as Chair of the Department of Music at Webster University. I’m eager to strengthen my teaching, and up my service profile as professor, both inside the university and in engagement with a wider community. This next summer promises to be my first summer of no university teaching or administrative duties in more than 30 years!

I’ll post next week a year-in-review-in-pictures.

And I leave this letter with a text I penned last week, for this year’s Advent Carol:

In this time of profound uncertainty,
In these months of joyless despair,
We hope again and joyous see:
A Savior comes, our sorrows to bear.

Be well, my friends and readers. Light is coming.

18 December 2020
Saint Louis, Missouri