Monday, June 26, 2006

Final day (Louise)

My final GA day was much less emotional than previous days, which is odd in that Sunday contains two big show-stoppers: Morning Worship and Closing Ceremony. While I enjoyed both, neither was the highlight of the week for me.

Morning Worship was terrific in the way it always is: a sense of wonder and amazement to be worshipping with THOUSANDS of UUs. We could fill a small city. Hymns were sung. Amens were shouted. Babies cried. Folks wandered in late. An offering was taken (why don't we do that in the CLF service? Giving, offering our resources, is a spiritual act...) I felt for an hour like a member of a Mega Church that could whup a big Texas Protestant evangelical church in tug of war.

Sean did a good job describing Sunday's plenary business. All week, as we listened to reports and debate in plenary, I jotted notes in the margin of my agenda about things that caught my interest or moved me. No jottings on Sunday. One item that I knew intellectually was important, the report from Meadville-Lombard Seminary on radical new thinking in the theological community, was given in such a dull 30-minute presentation that I really struggled to pay attention. The main speaker was a M-L professor and convinced me that if I go to seminary at some point in my life, it will be at Starr-King. Maybe it was just that 5 days into GA I was tired of "ministerial phrasing;" you know, that sing-song meaningful voice that many sermons are given in. 20 minutes of sermon once a week is fine, but GA contains dozens, maybe hundreds of hours of sermonizing and a body does tire of The Voice. Don't get me wrong; I realized this year that I have truly become an adult because I actually found 20 minutes to be too short. But, still. One of the reasons Rev. Meg Barnhouse's piece at Closing Ceremony was so wonderful is that she speaks like "jes folks." Plus she is so funny she makes me tear up.

We had a wonderful visit with our friends Pam and Di over dinner. It was great to catch up and talk deeply about our spiritual lives.

Closing Ceremony started off a little rough during Choir warm up. Earlier in the day we had exactly the right number of chairs on stage for our group of over 175 but by 7pm a chair was missing. The bass gentleman who discovered he had no seat did not seem to have the skills to handle this minor crisis, so I offered him my seat. It wasn't entirely altruistic; I was at the far edge of the tenor section, with basses who didn't know their part very well singing quite loudly (and incorrectly) behind me. One of the people around me smelled very bad, and I was anxious to move anyway. Hey, I'm flexible, I'll find a seat. It took a bit of asking around to find where an extra chair could be squeezed in. I am disappointed to say that the dozen or so other choir members that I asked if there was an empty seat further down their row or to shift their chairs a bit to see if we could find room were mostly rather rude and uncooperative. There was certainly no sense of "we're part of a group and in this together."

I resigned myself to sitting on the steps, and was truly okay with that. We were going to sing eight pieces including hymns, so I'd be standing much of time anyway. Plus, I was in the lowest 10th percentile age-wise, so better me than someone with arthritic knees. However, when I went to inform the tenor section leader of my plan, she would have none of it, waved her hands and put me between two of the soloists in the front row. This was ideal. The woman on my right smelled of fresh lavender and they both sang like powerful goddesses. We rocked and shouted and loved that music into ministry, oh yes!

The music was great, but the complicated nature of conducting us, the Children's Choir, the band, and the congregation (often simultaneously) in the large echoing hall seemed to make Mimi anxious. Watching her worried face saddened me, a little. I think she truly loved working with us, but was a bit disappointed in the final performance. I loved the rehearsals more, myself. I suspect she did, too.

This is not to say that this GA was a disappointment, though. Both Sean and I are inspired to give more of our time to the church. We are planning to step forward to help with making CLF a Welcoming Congregation, and are thinking about which UUA committees we are best suited for. We're setting our goals pretty high: he's considering running for Planning Committee and I've got my eye on the Board of Trustees. We'll see how that all fits in with our Red Cross work.

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