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Unexpected renewal…

by | Dec 27, 2020 | Handel, renew, Unexpected

Within walking distance of Fannie was one of the best TexMex places – probably in the country, but for sure in the DC area.  As such, you could walk down, have a good lunch, a Margarita (I can now confirm), and walk back renewed in an hour.  Hand-made soft tortillas, salsa, and chips that are thin as my hair was becoming accompanied many meetings there over the 8 years that were now winding down.  This was the place I hosted my going away party, a fun occasion, with more people not there than attending, but the ones that mattered were mostly there.  And it was incredibly renewing

… as I looked into the small group, swelled by my own family that had made it down from the burbs ( frankly they came for dinner.), the faces started to blur a bit.  I recommend the First 90 Days as a go-to book for starting a new role, but interestingly there is no Last 90 Days.  As this was now my 3rd transition, I started to take note of the “best practices” which are actually your “mistakes” reframed with grace.  My current boss gave the expected “we will miss you” and then presented me with an integrated stereo that was much nicer (and presentable) than the one I had set up in my office over the years 😉 

You have probably heard that when the King heard the Hallelujah Chorus for the first time, he stood thinking that it was “touched by God”.  And in fact, when he wrote it, Handel said “I did think I did see all Heaven before me, and the great God himself.”  There are stories now that the King was mostly deaf, and thought it was the National Anthem… but no matter, that “standing” has continued every time it is performed.  Ironically, it was the success of another Oratorio (Judas) that captured the hearts of the public – because it was perceived as a veiled anthem of its own against the King 😉 

Handel ended his run on the Earth the day before Easter in 1759 to accolades.  John Wesley said after watching the performance in Bristol, “I doubt if that congregation was ever so serious at a sermon as they were during this performance”.  By this point his reputation had been renewed and the Messiah had started to become a focal point of all music. Another said, “He died as he lived—a good Christian, with a true sense of his duty to God and to man, and in perfect charity with all the world.” A nice send-off that would be welcome at any going away party…

Why is the Messiah so popular – still?  My own story is a “DIY”… one of the very first times I heard the whole thing was in Houston way back in 1982.  One of Beth’s nursing friends invited us to go to a “sing-a-long” Messiah, and I thought “what could possibly go wrong?”  We arrived at the First Presbyterian Church downtown, and immediately were split up.  I sat with the Bass voices, luckily on the border with the Tenor’s.  As we started out, I had been in Choir, but not for years, and when I opened the book in front of me, oh my goodness there were a LOT of notes. 

The conductor turned towards us – the Chorus – and started “rehearsing us”.  He picked out particular portions, showed us how we would be signaled to stand, and the particularly tricky places we “practiced”. Many knew the piece cold, but for some, there was the renewal of “ah – yes now I remember”.  And then… it was game on.  We sat as they started the Overture, and the anticipation was unbelievable… 2nd only to the sound we produced.  

This became an almost yearly part of our Christmas renewal – finding one somewhere and actually doing it.  I was extremely lucky to get tickets to the Kennedy Center sing-a-long where I was able to take my Dad – who had a great voice but didn’t sing often.  In the same way, when we were first directed to sing, as he stood, he came down and sat next to me “.. so we can support each other”.  Exactly. 

This week I was at a going-away party for another friend who was stepping away from his role after 17 years.  And it reminded me of the blurring of my vision standing there at Cactus Cantina.   Some faces blur because they will fade (graciously) away.  Some will blur because you overlooked them – only to crisp up much later when you realize – oh wow THAT person was really helpful.  And there are those that are blurry because of the…. Onions – yea, the raw onions on the Fajitas are killer.  That’s it. I was thrilled to be invited to hear the toasts to those who knew the real person I had come to know over the years, the ones that mattered most now and will continue.  The others… will blur and fade soon enough I have found… 

On this Sabbath, I get two chances to connect and renew my faith, and hopefully yours.  It is a crazy thing, I know, but also incredibly simple.  Music – ALL music – is 12 notes.  7 Major, 5 flats.  Putting those together, Handel produced one of the greatest pieces of music we still use to celebrate.  I hope your Christmas week filled you with your own delight and renewal for what lies ahead, and that you experienced the joy that should be a part of not just this season, but every season of your life. My wish is that you will close out this year, and enter into the New Year …. like a child really.  For Unto Us a Child is Given…

 

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