Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Home sweet... Gordon College.

My flight to D.C. was rather interesting. To my right sat BohoChick, and to her right was VodkaMan. VodkaMan ordered orange juice with two or three little vodka bottles, and proceeded to become what I can only assume was a little bit tipsy. Upon finding out that I was a musician, he proudly informed me in dramatic terms that he played seven instruments and had once upon a time been a great musician in one of the best college bands in the country. Drinking a bit more, he attempted to continue the conversation, at which point I gradually began to feign sleep during an opportune pause. Then he talked to BohoChick, telling her, "that's a purrrty dress you've got on..." It got rather awkward and I was grateful that my closed eyes averted any further attempts at engaging me in conversation. He said some hilarious things, all of which I jotted down after the flight for my own later amusement, but I seem to have lost the bit of paper I used. Oh well. My faithful blog readers will have to be deprived of that particular pleasure.

In D.C. I attended the wedding of my dear friend Story Gustafson. She is now happily wed to Josiah Jones, and I can honestly say that it was the most perfect wedding I have ever been to. Story wore a dress that had been her mother's and her grandmother's before her, and she looked stunning. The wedding was held in the historic Falls Church, and all of the liturgy was perfect and fitting. Finally, the music was absolutely amazing. Apparently, almost all the members of Story's extended family are very talented musicians. Her grandfather was the head of the music department at a university for quite a long time, her grandmother (incidentally, both of her grandparents were absolutely charming and a joy to talk with) is a soprano who still has a better voice than many younger sopranos, her aunts and uncles all play varieties of instruments, and all of her siblings and cousins play multiple instruments as well.

The wedding included a string quartet as well as a flute and piano duo providing the prelude music. Then, two cousins sang the Rutter "For the Beauty of the Earth" during the seating of the family. Story's processional was played quite well on the organ (the only music provided by a non-relative!), and then throughout the wedding there was more special music. Before the vows took place, a 26-person Family Choir sang a piece composed by Story's grandfather on the text Spirit of God, Descend on My Heart. It was so beautiful. I nearly cried. It had a violin descant line, too, played by Story's aunt. After the choir finished singing, the Priest, obviously very moved by the experience, talked about how long Falls Church has been in existence, and how long he has been there as priest, and then said that this was probably the first time such a thing had ever taken place in that building. Turning to Story, he said, "you are greatly honored by your family, aren't you," and she nodded joyfully. I liked that; honor is a concept that is much neglected in today's world, yet it is truly remarkable to have a family such as Story's and to be as honored by them all as she is.

After the vows took place, the Family Choir circled around the couple again and sang the Rutter "The Lord Bless You and Keep You." Again, it was beautiful. The recessional was jubilant (organ, of course - as it ought to be!), and we all headed out to the reception with our favors: little bundles of toll quarters! The reception was lovely, and also featured a great deal of fabulous music. The most memorable part, however, I simply must mention. Story's cousins formed a bottle choir and played Pachelbel's Canon. Apparently this is a longstanding family tradition! Yes, they all stood with bottles filled to varying degrees with water and played Pachelbel! It was funny and pretty at the same time. The whole wedding and reception was just such a wonderfully good time that I couldn't resist writing about it. And I got to see Janna! (I'd link to her blog, but it would be essentially pointless since she never posts! Ahem!)

Anyway, I'm back at Gordon now. Today (well, yesterday, I suppose) was the first day of classes, the first chapel of the year, and the first day of choir. I'm so excited for the year - I really don't feel "senioritis" or a desire to be done with school yet, even though this is my fifth year. And of course, it's nice to be back with FavoriteBoy - being on opposite coasts really wasn't an optimal situation for either of us. (He picked me up from the airport at almost midnight on the 13th, and when he brought me back to Gordon, I walked into my room to find that he had already carried all my boxes up from storage, made my bed for me, and set up my room! Can you believe it?!)

I'm living in a dorm this year, and the transition from apartment back to dorm has been surprisingly easy - I'm loving living in Chase, and Roommate and I are having fun (at least, I am!). In fact, the only reason I am up so absurdly late is because of fun late-night talks! Yay!

And now, bedtime.

Tuesday, August 9, 2005

I forgot to mention an interesting realization I had in church this past Sunday. I've been attending my family's church all summer, which is a very contemporary, quasi-non-denominational church. I like many things about the church: the preaching, the pursuit of excellence in worship, and the fact that I can play my violin in the band to rave reviews (heh). In fact, I've been pretty content to go there for the summer. I hadn't realized how much I missed tradition until I walked into Blessed Sacrament. We sang hymns! We took communion! We said the Creed! It was like the feeling when you take a drink of cool water and suddenly realize that you've been thirsty all along and not even known it.

I really want to memorize the Creed in Latin. Actually, let me ammend that statement and say that I really want to learn Latin, period. I took Latin in high school, but I am already amazed at how much I've forgotten since then. Ah, frail mind! But it looks as though I may be able to remedy my deplorable lack of linguistic ability during this coming year; I may be able to take Latin as an independent study. I would really like that. And I would really like to memorize the Creed, if just to be able to say this one most beautifully flowing line: Deum de Deo, lumen de lĂșmine, Deum verum de Deo vero.

It doesn't get much better than that.
Jesu, joy of man's desiring,
Holy Wisdom, love most bright;
Drawn by Thee, our souls aspiring
Soar to uncreated light.

Word of God, our flesh that fashioned,
With the fire of life impassioned,
Striving still to truth unknown,
Soaring, dying round Thy throne.

Through the way where hope is guiding,
Hark, what peaceful music rings;
Where the flock, in Thee confiding,
Drink of joy from deathless springs.

Theirs is beauty's fairest pleasure;
Theirs is wisdom's holiest treasure.
Thou dost ever lead Thine own
In the love of joys unknown.

~ Jesu bleibet meine Freude
(Words by Martin Janus, music by Johann Schop; best known from Cantata 147 by Johann Sebastian Bach.)

"We do not want merely to see beauty, though, God knows, even that is bounty enough. We want something else which can hardly be put into words -- to be united with the beauty we see, to pass into it, to receive it into ourselves, to bathe in it, to become part of it. That is why we have people air earth and water with gods and goddesses and nymphs and elves -- that, though we cannot, yet these projections can enjoy in themselves that beauty, grace, and power of which Nature is the image. ... We cannot mingle with the splendours we see. But all the leaves of the New Testament are rustling with the rumour that it will not always be so. Some day, God willing, we shall get in."

~ The Weight of Glory by C. S. Lewis

Monday, August 8, 2005

The beautiful Miss Courtney Voss is now the radiant Mrs. Michael Unruh. The wedding was wonderful, the bride was a vision of loveliness, and the music was... uhh... passable.

Why do people cry at weddings?

Why do I cry at weddings?

It was really a beautiful day.

Jesse and Christine sang a Bebo Norman song. I like the lyrics a lot.

A page is turned by the wind to a boy in curly grin
With a world to conquer at the age of ten
But as history unfolds and the storybook is told
He finds salvation but not at the hands of man

And the God of second chance
Picked him up and He let him dance
Through a world that is not kind
And all this time, preparing him, the one
To hold him up when he comes undone
Beneath the storm, beneath the sun
And now a man, here you stand
Your day has come

A page is turned in this world to reveal a little girl
With a heart that's bigger, as it is unfurled
By the language in her soul, that's teaching her to grow
With a careful cover of love that will not fail

And the God of second chance
Picked her up and He let her dance
Through a world that isn't kind
And all this time, preparing her the one
To hold her up when she comes undone
Beneath the storm, beneath the sun
And grown up tall, here you are
Your day has come

Beneath the air of autumn, she took him by his hand
And warm within the ardor, she took his heart instead
And high upon the mountain, he asked her for her hand
Just for her hand

A page is turned in this life, he's making her his wife
And there is no secret to the source of this much life
When the grace that falls like rain is washing them again
Just a chance to somehow rise above this land

Where the God of second chance
Will pick them up and he'll let them dance
Through a world that is not kind
And all this time, they're sharing with the one
That holds them up when they come undone
Beneath the storm, beneath the sun
And once again, here you stand
And once again, here you stand
Your day has come

You can get it from iTunes if you want to hear it. I think it's really nice.

Aside from the wedding itself, being in SoCal was fun. I got to see Libby and Jon, Dustin and Katie (they're married!), Phil and Alisha (they're so married; they have been for quite a while now!), Sheri and Chris (they're married with a baby!), Amy (she's married, too!), Lem (who looked so professional taking all the wedding pictures), Christine, Jesse, Tim, Becca F, Bethany, and other friends from that era of my life.

I stayed with Emily, Gabe, and my adorable (and chubby!) nephew; they graciously allowed me to crash on their couch for a few days. I also got to see my aunt Susan, which was nice.

Libby and I had smoothies at Juice Stop and sat outside sipping them and talking. It was like "the old days" again. It was great.

I went to Blessed Sacrament on Sunday morning, and we sang Dear Lord and Father of Mankind, which made me very happy. After church, I went bridesmaid-dress-shopping with Libby and Emily. Finding the perfect dresses may be a challenge. I tried on one that was beautiful, though. And I think Libby's choice of dark green is just fabulous.

Wednesday, August 3, 2005

Yesterday, I seem to have injured my left knee while running.

Today, I am walking with a limp.

In a few minutes, I am going to the dentist to have two little cavities filled. I think the word "terrified" would not be too dramatic to describe my feelings at the moment.

Tomorrow, I am flying standby with a red pass to Southern California, where I will play my violin in my friend Courtney's wedding. Many of the details concerning my flight, my transportation once I arrive, and the music for this wedding have still not fallen into place. However, more of the details are in place today than were last night, when I finally collapsed into bed with tears on my face, worried that nothing would work out right. And I have hopes of even more details being in place before I board the plane tomorrow.

On either Sunday or Monday, I will fly back home.

The following Friday, I will board another plane and fly to DC to attend the wedding of my dear friend Story.

The next day, I will fly to Boston. I'll be back at school early. That's what we call cram time for practicing. And this means that in 10 days I will see FavoriteBoy.

Tuesday, August 2, 2005

Our camping trip was fun. More fun than I thought it would be, in fact. I didn’t know many of the families going, but by the end of the trip I had enjoyed several great conversations, played with charming children, consumed burnt marshmallows prepared for me by the aforementioned charming children, and spent some nice time swimming and lounging around in the sunshine.

The smell of sunscreen is in my mind permanently associated with summer. A woman told me recently that she thinks the most enduring memory we can have of a person or experience is the scent of that person or experience. I’ve been thinking about this. GAP Dream reminds me of Wheaton. Catching a whiff of that scent, whether on myself (I still have remnants of an old bottle) or anyone else, takes me back to my room in Fischer with my roommate Kara (we both had that scent). And our laundry from home has this certain scent that isn’t matched anywhere else that just smells like home to me. And the scents of certain meals my Mom makes a lot are indelibly stamped in my memory. And the way my Dad smells. And the way FavoriteBoy smells, for that matter.

The only other memory I can think of that might be equally (if not more) powerful than scent is music. I think that the memories of music are even more powerful than other sounds, like speaking voices. I can’t remember exactly what Nathan’s voice sounds like when I’m away from him, but I can call to mind a hundred different pieces of music that are strong reminders of him, and it’s almost like transporting myself to where I stood when we listened to it or played it together.

I will never hear the Rimsky-Korsakov Russian Easter Overture without almost feeling as though I am back at Wheaton, recalling each detail vividly, reliving loving that music with Kelly and Graeme and my other friends. And Ben Folds always reminds me of Wheaton, too, because my suitemate used to listen to his music over and over. And Alison Krauss will always remind me of riding in my Dad’s truck to work each day during the summers. And this was more recent – but I will never hear Elijah without remembering how it felt to sit in my seat in orchestra on the stage in AJ Chapel at Gordon, finishing the Overture and hearing the Chorus come in with the first “Help, Lord!” It’s a powerful memory of a powerful experience.

I suppose it’s possible that music is only this powerful for me, because I am a musician. Maybe other people experience memories differently. But I think that for me, hearing a piece of music or catching a whiff of a scent are the most powerful things to call an old memory to mind.