Shortly before 7:30am, Duane dropped off Eva at the house so that she could spend a couple of hours with Mary Ann.  Then came Shari and Edie for the Spiritual Formation Group that meets on the deck or in the downstairs family room.  Since the deck is covered with snow, it was, of course, a downstairs morning.  All is well whichever place as long as the coffee is made. 

A little later, Zandra came to give Mary Ann her shower and wash and dry her hair.  About an hour after they all had left, Kristie came to do the once a month cleaning of the house. 

Actually, we have an open door policy most of the time.  We have been very private people, especially Mary Ann.  All that changed in the last decade.  Since getting to the door is not always an option when someone rings the bell,  those who have come regularly to spend time with Mary Ann know that they may just need to walk in, if no one answers the door.  They walk in and announce themselves so that we will know that they have arrived.  We have become quite accustomed to the open door policy. 

While we did not get out today, the many visitors provided an antidote to any sense of isolation in our little cabin.  No cabin fever today.

Mary Ann did nap for a couple of hours during the day.  That allowed me to get some things done at the computer.  I did not spend time on the online retreat until she went to bed tonight. 

These two days looking at mental snapshots of events during the Teen/Young Adult years has again been thought provoking.  The Spiritual Formation Group discussion blended with the matter of receiving gifts from experiences, good or bad. 

I thought about last night’s post and the role singing played in my life.  While the high school and college years provided much affirmation as I participated in leadership roles, sometimes doing solo work as well as singing in ensembles, it was different at the Seminary.  Music  was still a dominant feature.  There was a three week choir tour that took us (Mary Ann and me) to England, Holland, Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Belgium.  There were powerful, moving worship experiences singing in the chant choir and performing Bach’s St. John Passion. 

My ego was taken down a few notches in the Seminary Years.  Illusions about my ability were shattered as I stood next to a tenor who had a Master’s Degree in Vocal Music from Indiana University.  I realized that I had been measuring my ability against non-music majors.  Louie provided a needed perspective. 

My injured ego came with me as I continued to sing in the Chant Choir at the Seminary, and the Cantata Choir that included people from the city.    The gift that came from those years was a more realistic view of my abilities.  While the truth can be painful, it is better to make friends with the truth than spend much time with pretense.  Another gift was an appreciation of being a part of something greater than one person.  It became less about me and more about the music and its impact on those listening. 

That shift in focus seems to me to have helped in the transition from a high profile role as Senior Pastor of a large and vibrant congregation, to a lower profile role of being the full time Caregiver to someone who needs that care, someone to whom I am fully committed.  

Those years included the joy that December 18, 1965, when Mary Ann and I were married in our home congregation in Northern, Illinois.  We had both had finals at our respective schools in St. Louis the Friday before the Saturday we were married in Aurora, Illinois, outside of Chicago. 

Those years included the death of Mary Ann’s Dad, just two or three weeks after the wedding.  He had walked Mary Ann down the aisle. 

The Seminary years included a year at a church doing an Internship, called a Vicarage.  It was the 60’s, including the three assasinations.  I became disillusioned with the institutional church.  I refused to accept a Call to a parish on the day my classmates all received theirs a few weeks before graduation.  Those were dark days.  I didn’t know what to tell Mary Ann, since I didn’t know what to do.  Lisa was due to be born about a month after graduation. 

Lisa was born on the Fourth of July in 1969.  She brought light to those dark days.  I can remember holding her as we watched the moon landing, wondering what it would be in store for her as we moved into the space age.  I remember her Baptism in the Seminary Tower’s Baptismal font, with water from the Jordan that John Damm had added before doing the Baptism. 

Out of that time emerged an opportunity to teach at Concordia Lutheran High School in Ft. Wayne, Indiana (where I had spent two of my college years and my Internship).  It was a school of some 900 students.  There were some volatile times there, which will be for a future post. 

Those years were a roller coaster of experience in most every way.  They provided a lifetime worth of highs and lows.  And the ride was just beginning.   The gift from those years came in the form of the recognition that most anything could happen, and with the Lord’s help, we would survive.  Little did we know then, just how important that learning would be. 

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