I remember wishing that 2020 would just end already.
I think I said something to that effect, too, more than once. 2021 has been a hard year, too. But much of it has been a reawakening of hope for me. Here, in non-chronological order, are some happenings that I want to remember.
I’ve been on a lot of dates, all with the same gentleman friend frequently mentioned below. Enough said.
(But if you really want to know, he’s amazing and I am glad he’s in my life).
The Lent Project
The Lent Project was something I had wanted to do for several years, ever since I first discovered the Biola Lent Project. It took a lot of email writing, organizing, editing, and copying and pasting. There were days when I wondered if anyone was even reading it or appreciating it (other than my parents who always left little comments on the posts they liked). The finished product, whether read by two or two hundred, is something I am very proud of, and may seek to replicate in the coming years. Being involved with that many creatives was very satisfying for me. I’d like to do a project like that again.
Link to part of the Project: https://villageanglican.church/village-blog-desmos?offset=1615114800588&reversePaginate=true&month=march-2021
Piano Lessons & Music Learning Theory
I have begun to read and study more about Music Learning Theory in the past year, and am delighted to say that it is changing the way I view music and music learning. I found a teacher to study with and have been taking lessons with her for almost six months. She lives in Mexico, so we do our lessons over Zoom. It’s a lot of fun, and I am learning a lot. Sometimes it’s overwhelming because it flies in the face of so much of what I have done in the past. But I’m excited about where it’s taking me: a deeper understanding of music.
My gentleman friend and I traveled to Charleston. I love going there and discovering more history each time (and more good places to eat).
We also jumped in a sky van and got to sit very close to the front where the plush seats and entertainment are. It was my first time in this area of any sky van anywhere, and I posed for many classy photos near my seat. Wearing a face mask that I couldn’t peel off after 20 minutes to make my skin glow was a bit frustrating, but I endured…and endured…and endured all the way to California. It was worth it.
Spending time with my family (and gentleman friend) made me laugh a lot, a much needed thing after the difficulty of the previous year. We had long conversations about as many things as we could. I see my family maybe once a year, so this time is always very precious and not nearly long enough. I also got to see my niece who, up til now, mainly knew me just from Skype calls and video messages. She is really good at playing, finding rocks, and swinging, or, at least, she is good at sitting on the swing while I push her. We tried surfing, and took long walks on the beaches, staring at the deep blue water in amazement. Santa Barbara is truly magical.
Although, we did discover that the city bears little to no resemblance to the Santa Barbara of Shawn Spencer and his trusty sidekick, Gus. I guess they really Psyched us out in the end.
There’s a wedding venue near my house, and I have to confess I’ve driven by there frequently in the past year just to get a glimpse of people celebrating. It’s very hard to do this without looking creepy so I don’t stay long, just gaze wistfully at their fairy lights, hors d’oeuvres, and dancing from my car. I miss that and hope it becomes more normal in 2022 (the big social gatherings, not the wistful gazing).
In the spring, a friend invited me to play the piano for her wedding. It was a much needed reminder of joyful gatherings. There was no dancing, but the music and speeches reminded me how wonderful it is when two faithful people join lives. And it was the first wedding I’ve been to at my church here in South Carolina. The Anglican wedding liturgy did not disappoint.
In late summer, my sister Grace made the trek from Arizona to North Carolina and we drove to Virginia together for the wedding of a dear friend. There’s nothing like a long roadtrip with your sister, her sweet baby boy, and Mat Kearney’s voice serenading you down the highway. Again, every moment with them felt so precious and hard won.
The wedding took place in a field on a farm, and the reception was under a nearby oak tree. It was under this tree, as the stars came out and the lamps were lit, that I was reminded of the sacred and the ordinary coming together in beautiful ways. Incidentally, this was also an Anglican wedding, and the liturgy was just as good and true in an open field as it was beneath the stained glass windows of my church. There were several Anglicans there who had taken part in my Lent Project back in the spring, including the bride and groom. It was life giving to meet many of them in person for the first time and thank them again for being a part of that project.
Many of the people in attendance were missionary kids I had grown up with, and it gave me hope to see them with their families. Covid didn’t finish us, or God’s work in our lives.
I went on several adventures with my adventure partner. One of the highlights was for my birthday in November. We went to a place called The Gorge in North Carolina and zip-lined our way into a new year of life. Zipping down a mountainside attached to a wire is by far one of the best birthday celebrations I’ve ever experienced. Brunch and presents afterwards were also wonderful. My family conspired with said gentleman, and all of my presents appeared in the back of his car. There was some crying involved. (Mine, not his)
A friend at church told me that there were two other women in our congregation who were writers. We finally tracked down a good time to meet up with each other, and then began meeting regularly during NaNoWriMo. For the uninitiated, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. Every November, people sit hunched over their keyboards for hours at a time, typing furiously to meet a 50K word deadline (this is the typical length of a novel). We all set goals for the month and met up each week to discuss what we had accomplished. For those of you who have never attempted to write a book, it’s a lonely process and you need people around who understand. It’s even better if those same people are attempting the same thing.
I remember praying very specifically last year during NaNoWriMo that God would provide people to make things with. Lord, please help me find other creatives. That’s what I prayed. And He helped me find them. It’s wonderful to have people to write with now.
I was raised with a lot of conversations about missionaries and mission work. The unspoken agreement seemed to be that people left their regular jobs, which were meaningless, to do mission work, which meant so much more. Last year, I had the privilege of being a part of a book club where we read Every Good Endeavor by Tim Keller. This book challenged the ideas I’ve had about work and helped me see that my own profession of teaching music is not meaningless, even if I compare it with my friends who are overseas doing mission work. We are called to share the Gospel where we are, and my attitude and habits within my profession testify to my beliefs about God, the world, truth, goodness, beauty, everything.
When I came to Greenville, I heard about a fellowship run by the Leaf Institute. It is a fellowship designed to help people talk about how work and faith can intersect and inform the other. My church offered to pay for the entire program, and I have so loved getting to read books and discuss them with all of the other fellows each week. More posts on that to come!
Music I’ve Loved:
The Arcadian Wild
Too many beautiful pieces in the Lent Project!
I thought I would say something about the books I read this year…but that deserves it’s own post!
May I reread the lessons I’ve learned and let them grow strong roots in my heart,
May I refuse to exist in the shallow end of my life and follow my Lord out into the deep,
May I remember that all good music, all true words, come down as gifts from God, who is ever present, ever near, ever powerful and kind.
May I live in the knowledge and comfort of His return never forgetting the hope He has given me this year.
Thank You for 2021, Lord!