The December symphony madness has begun. Five different rehearsal locations, two different performance sites, five load-ins of the equipment truck (which logically also means five load-outs), seven rehearsals and three performances. All in the next ten days.
This weekend's concert will take place in the largest church in town. A most wonderful building. A glorious setting. And I absolutely hate performing there. Let me rephrase...I hate setting up to perform in there. In spite of being the largest church around, it's not easy to fit the orchestra and chorale in the space allowed. It can be done, but it's cramped, and visually ugly. But the sound is pretty good, and the non-Catholics appreciate any opportunity to see the inside of the Cathedral.
I was asked to meet the symphony's organist there this afternoon (last minute request--like I didn't have other things to get done). There was a dispute about where we wanted to put the organ console versus where the Diocese would allow it to go. He wanted me there early, but I had to work, then had the beginnings of a truck loading scheduled. I told him I could meet him at 3:45. He made a minor complaint that he'd be there earlier to practice, but that he'd come back. As it ended up, the truck loading went smoothly, so I got there about half an hour ahead of time. I didn't see his car, so I decided to just sit in a pew and wait for him.
The church organist was practicing in there, so I stayed off to the side so I wouldn't disturb him. And then the most amazing thing happened. Nothing. Absolutely nothing. I sat there in total serenity. The scent from the pine and fir boughs that made up the Advent wreath was filling the air. The organist was practicing something that sounded French (ah, no one writes organ music quite like the French!). Repeating passages that needed work. Holding long bass notes while adjusting the various buttons and levers on the console to get just the right sound. And I just sat and my mind emptied. I didn't have a conversation with God. I didn't pray. I didn't think about my dad. I didn't think about anything. I didn't doze off. I didn't fidget with my phone. I just sat. All the sadness of the past couple weeks drained out of my head. The stress of the next two weeks disappeared. I didn't even try to mentally follow along with the music being played. I just reveled in the tranquility, the serenity, the peacefulness. I just stared. At nothing in particular. I literally emptied my mind. It was, by far, the most amazing half hour I've had in years.
Finally, I stepped outside to call him, since he was about 10 minutes late. Straight to voice mail. I left a message and went back inside to wait for another 1o minutes more, at the most. It was then that I looked at the organist, and found it to be the guy I was supposed to be meeting in the first place! He had no idea that I'd been there for the past half hour, and I had no idea it was him. We take care of our logistics problem, and I leave.
Maybe God was telling me in His own way to sit down and zone out for a few. I don't know. I do know that if I'd taken another four steps further into the sanctuary when I first got there, I would have been in and out of there in 10 minutes, and I would have missed this wonderful opportunity. That would have been a terrible thing, and I wouldn't have even known...