Last weekend was unpleasant. There was the surprise call to play a wedding. One of my cantors didn’t show for practice. My stomach was bothering me, forcing me to leave Mass (and hold it up for a couple minutes) and cancel out of a friend’s birthday party. The Bears were skunked. The fill-in priest didn’t show at one of my Spanish Masses, forcing the deacon to hold an impromptu Communion service. (The priest is in his 80s; we’re hoping he just forgot and is OK but haven’t heard yet.)
But amid all that, there was a pleasant blip that nearly wiped it all out. I stopped at home between Saturday Masses to take medication for my tummy. Stupid tummy. I was throwing some stuff in the car when a minivan pulled into the driveway.
It opened to reveal a high school friend, his wife, and their two kids. They were at Mass nearby and just happened to see me, so they decided to stop and visit, much to my delight.
Their 2-year-old was chipper and chatty. Their baby, not so much. The mom and dad and I quickly caught up on everything going on as the kids got bored because the grownups were talking.
It couldn’t have lasted more than 10 minutes. Literally, it couldn’t, because the impatient 2-year-old started yelling, “Bye!” repeatedly, forcing their parents’ hand.
It’s a simple thing, I know. Perhaps even mundane. But in a weekend that was miserable, this helped me feel much, much better than grouchy.
I tapped my phone screen so I could listen to the voicemail.
“So, I should have called you earlier, but can you play my wedding tomorrow?” (Earlier was three weeks ago.)
And I did it. At the standard rate. Because I am a fool.
And I could use the money.
In the morning, I received the e-mail, as did many others. A colleague was soon to become a former colleague, off to some new something-or-other — what it was, she didn’t specify.
My first reaction, in a sense, was a sigh of relief. Same with many others. And then there was a little bit of guilt.
The stepsister of my high-school friend’s wife was killed a few days ago in a domestic murder-suicide. It’s senseless and enraging and awful and all sorts of other things. Please pray for her soul and the soul of the man who killed her, as well as the families, who will have a hell of a time piecing all this together.
I could spend time wallowing in disappointment. But what’s the point? There is work to be done, a choir to lead, practices to attend, etc.
So instead, I prefer to enjoy the success of my cantors at my main parish. Neither is particularly well trained musically; one barely reads music. But they have worked hard on a piece for the Exaltation of the Holy Cross this weekend. It’s a duet and a gentle little piece by Kathryn Rose (follow her on Twitter here) that we’re doing before Mass.
And last night, after weeks of work, they did it flawlessly, setting them up to sing it flawlessly this weekend.
They were thrilled. I was happy. It wasn’t an easy piece for them, but they got it.
Moments like that make this job well worth it.
While shopping for a baptism gift for my godson, I wound up at a Catholic bookstore three towns over. The saleslady, upon figuring out I was an organist, recommended “Brightest and Best,” a book telling the backgrounds behind some of the best-loved hymns. So I went for it, thinking hey, good to know this stuff.
How disappointed I was. Father Rutler has done his research, and it appears solid and informative. But the attitude he brings to it is frustrating and sinks the whole enterprise.
A few months ago, I made the decision that at some point, I wanted to do sacred music full time. And a couple months ago, a job came up that would have put me closer to that goal. It was a great parish. I went for it with all my effort. I interviewed well. Impressed people.
Still didn’t get it.