Last Sunday I sang with the African Methodist Episcoals.
I have a friend who is a retired music teacher and she was invited to teach them the ‘Hallelujah Chorus’ from the Messiah last fall. Not their usual genre. At one point my friend, who does not give up easily, just about did. But she didn’t. At the last minute people came out of the woodwork and joined that choir, including a former voice teacher of mine, and pulled it off. I visited Judy’s church not long ago and we visit like mad when we get the chance and she said she they were doing it again for a dedication service and they needed a little boost, would I be interested. I hemmed and hawed thinking it was not the musical experience I was longing for , but Judy goes right on making my plans for me and next thing you know I am looking for the AME church. My temperamental voice did several things to prove to Judy what I have been telling her for a long time, but when the time came to shine, it shined right where she needed it to! However, there was an appendage to my singing the Hallelujah chorus. Judy says “they are doing a couple of Gospel numbers that I am singing, not directing” and I wasn’t quite sure what to do with myself then. The woman sitting next to me said, “Stay right here.” Then this TALL black man with long braids gets up and says “This is what I wnat you to do” He does it, has us repeat, sits back down at the organ and takes off. Okay, so I feel my way through. There was another song another woman directed, AND there was music, it was a little more clear. I got to sing 2nd soprano for that one as no one else was and they were tickled to have it in there. So on Sunday afternoon I got there 3:30 ish in my white blouse and black skirt with the pink scarf, and the service started at 4. There I was in my 2nd black church service ever. For the most part , I loved it. I used to think I could never like the noise alnd the only noise I didn’t like was the yelling and screaming in the microphone, but that was just a couple people, one being the speaker. It was a small building with plaster walls. The choir ‘processed’ in. We started at the front singing and walked to the back and back to the front (side) and sat down, singing and swaying the whole way. when I do my exercises I am always on the left when they say right and I figure it doesn’t matter, but here it matters, so I was watching the back of the woman in front of me the whole time. I really didn’t know that was what we were going to do and as we left the room where we assembled Judy leaned over to me and said, ‘wing it.” I did! The man who directed the choir was very good and he pointed when to sway and which direction to go, much to my relief! I never got tired of the organ playing. I love the fact that if the choir is singing a song you like and know, you can sing along! They were all very warm to me. At the first rehearsal I went to Judy introduced me and one woman said “We welcome you with open arms!’ In the course of the service I found out that she was the first black woman to teach in the Lancaster public schools and the first to be a professor at Millersville University. I came home with lipstick on my cheek one night! It ended about three hours later. They had to wrap it up. Sunday night church started at 7:30!
I used to share a room with my older sister, one of the faithful readers of this blog. We were essentially the ‘odd couple’. She was the ______ and I was the slob! One time she walked into our room and looked at me with the radio going ( the radio snatched out of my mother’s kitchen) and said “Music and Men, that is all you think about!” I was ‘going with’ `the young man who would one day be my husband , but I was probably about 15 at the time.
The other day I had a cleaning fit. I usually think about Rachael in my cleaning fits!!! I always think about how fast she can see what needs doing and get it done. But on Satireday I thought I would limit my cleaning to certain places and really clean. I had a good time doing it, too for about a half a day. I persevered till I was done. The kitchen sparkled. The living room had music and toys left out from Easter ( I need tracks to prove that children really were here) put away. I just don’t usually think about dirt and messiness. Music and the Man of the Place suit me just fine. I was doing lesson plans yesterday when a friend who is just finishing seminary called. He mentioned he had spent a good part of the day translating and it sounded so fun to me. Much better than lesson plans. I have ideas . I am not a planner. But ideas are nothing without plans, so like the cleaning, I muck through plans , too, thinking about my sister.
Rachael used to crawl in bed on certain nights and say, “Clean body, clean hair, clean nighty, clean sheets.Perfect!” I always knew I had at least one thing missing. Well, Saturday, I done it all. I even did the laundry that washed my sheets and clothes, too. Plus, I went out to eat with the Birthday Boy.
Just remember, I didn’t call you any nasty things in this blog!
Last week I went around the world in 3 days. I saw hippos, monkeys, penguins, zebras, wild pigs. I saw a cloister in
France, and a tea room in
Japan and a Korean shrine, medieval knights ‘suited up’ in their armor, and Dutch ceramics, Shaker furniture and water birds in the wild. On a beautiful Tuesday when the weather was in the 70’s (a very dim memory now!), I went to
Philadelphia and called my friend Grace who asked if Ellis and I wanted to go to the zoo. Did we! I had been to the
Philadelphia zoo once a very long time ago in the wintertime and it just wasn’t very interesting. It was much nicer in the warm weather. The orangutans put on a circus act for us and the penguins and polar bears splashed around. The entrance to the zoo is filled with magnolia trees in full bloom and they were just clouds of pink. All
Philadelphia had spring break and they were all at the zoo! Or so it seemed. Two days later in the midst of snow flurries I found myself on the way to Philly again, this time to the Art Museum with a pile of 8th graders and their art teacher. Mr. Art teacher and I have had a lot of conversations about art and we actually gave our Hans Rookmaker book to him (Modern Art and the Death of a Culture) because we knew he could make good use of it instead of it sitting as a treasure on our shelves, and he has. He felt like he had ‘company’ with HR, as though he was his friend. So I had the ‘honor’ of traveling with the 8th graders! Actually they were pretty good and we had a good day overall. I had been there just last Christmas, so I felt like I ‘knew’ something. It is an amazing place. You can get lost in it. You go into a gallery and you can go deeper and deeper, and there are all kinds of things to explore Saturday I was in the saddle again going to my sister Emily’s new home in
Smyrna, DE. As I consulted the map I noticed that
Smyrna is just west of Bombay Hook Wildlife Refuge and it is one of favorite, though rarely visited, water bird places. One time we went there we let Sam sit on the hood of the car and hold the binoculars, since at that stage in his life, he knew what everything was! After Em and I did some serious unpacking and straightening in the basement, we drove off for BH, with the binoculars I brought left in my car as we rode in hers! We did identify some herons, egrets, spoonbills, and a lone bufflehead. On further consultation with the family ornithologist ( I guess he still knows something I don’t), we saw a black ibis as well. It was pretty cold, so we stayed on the car, but noted places for future explorations.
Smyrna is about a 2 hour drive, if you don’t stop. Well, I started this a few days ago so I am going to get it posted! And you can catch up on my ‘wild life’. J