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Gabriel's Harp

Contemporary Christian Music

The Gabriel's Harp Blog

The past three years just melted together

Time passes and we gauge our time as before and after. After graduation. Before kids. After vacation. Before winter.

Well, the last three years just blended together. Before the pandemic. After the pandemic. It's so hard to remember what happened when in the past three years. I got a little spoiled. Instead of multi-tasking, I did one project at a time. And I enjoyed it. I loved having more time to compose and record. I loved having more time spent quarantined with family. I loved Zooming Napa Valley and Washington and New York.

It was devastating to lose friends and family to Covid.

It was hard to watch people losing their jobs.

When we could gather once again, in a masked-but-social environment, we were invited to a concert by Encore Chamber Music. Thirteen musicians performed Appalachian Spring. We watched, we listened, and I found tears streaming down my cheeks to hear live music once again.

It is heart-warming to see people in person again.

Pandemic Reflections

National Geographic describes adaptation as “the adjustment of organisms to their environment in order to improve their chances at survival in that environment.” Just as whales migrate each season - swimming from the Arctic Ocean in summer to the warm coastal waters of Mexico in winter - we adapted to challenges of the pandemic to better insure our survival: sheltering-in, social distancing, wearing masks. The world around us shared our crisis. Interestingly, the Chinese symbol for crisis has two characters, one meaning “danger” and the other signifying a “change point” or “opportunity.” Both of these meanings were highlighted in our very personal pandemic adaptation.

Our Divine Word musicians could continue to play with social distancing and masks, but our beloved choir could only sing from home. Paula played her flute, clarinet and vocal pads on a keyboard, Dominic also played his trumpet, string section and more on his keyboard. We began to learn songs we’d never played before, both in our Gather hymnal and contemporary Christian songs. Our Music Ministry - even the vocalists - recorded their parts at home and we were able to present our first Virtual Christmas Concert online. How lovely to hear us all together! This “change point” was truly an opportunity for us to learn and grow as musicians.

We now had the ability to accomplish things we’ve never done before: Worship from home with live-streamed masses. Through a laptop carried room to room, singing to nursing home residents. Singing with a choir from the United Kingdom, accompanied by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Performing for the Virtual Choir Series 2020 at Great Lakes Theater. Technology - and adaptation - has opened us to a new world.

When you hear music either in church or on our live-stream, listen to the lyrics of the songs and see how they pertain to the readings of the day and the liturgical season. I hope that music will touch your heart as it has mine.

May 4th Voices: Kent State 1970

Take a moment listen to a recent acting project, produced and directed by the incredibly talented Joe Gunderman in conjunction with Kent State University. Written by David Hassler, the play was first performed in October, 2019 at the Kent State University Hotel & Conference Center.

I was thrilled to be involved. I'm playing students, along with a wonderful cast of Kent State University-connected actors, including Tina Fey and Jeff Richmond.

We were too young to be part of the activities on campus that day, but the play - the reenactment and the reactions of the people involved - is shockingly realism and a horrifying display of events and the resulting divide created between students, parents, townspeople, police and the National Guard.

Patience, People

The Advent song rings in my mind today: Patience, people, for the Lord is coming.

So often we expect immediate results. Well, that just doesn't happen. Things develop over time. Rome wasn't built in a day. Patience is a virtue. Have patience in all things, but first of all, with yourself. (That last quote is St. Francis de Sales)

I think - just for today - the applicable quote is: Patience is not simply the ability to wait - it's how we behave while we're waiting. I'm told this is a quote from Joyce Meyer. Kudos, Ms. Meyer! How are you behaving? ARE you behaving? I think most of us don't have a choice right now. Our sheltering-in orders (or busy schedule for the front-line heros) are pretty much engraved in stone.

Just for today - cherish where you are and what you have. Appreciate what you can do for others and what they can do for you. In just a few short months, everything will change again and there will be a new normal.




Walking the Journey

So, yesterday, the Divine Word Staff toured the Office of Migration and Refugee Service, supported by the Diocese of Cleveland Catholic Charities AND the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Our tour guide was kind and well-informed, and had - as I suspect most of the Service's employees do - a passion for helping people in need. Did you know that there are approximately 20 million refugees worldwide? The United States has taken 25,000 refugees this year. These are individuals and families - some of them single mothers and children - who are persecuted and fled their home country - traveled to a refugee camp in another country, and are waiting for a third country to accept them. Time in the refugee camps can be anywhere from 5 to 30 years. Think about that. Remaining in a refugee camp for 5 to 30 years, until someone can come and rescue you. The MRS Office here in Cleveland has programs, volunteers and a plan to help the refugee from their arrival in the United States, helping with language barriers, job skills, providing assistance and housing. Many organizations in other states help the "easy-to-place" refugees. Cleveland helps everyone, especially those with health concerns and single moms with children. Our tour was an eye-opening AND heart-warming experience.

The next time you hear about the limits the United States places on incoming refugees or immigrants, picture yourself and your family living in a tent or a box or in a field. For 15 years or more. And open your heart and know that it could have been you, except by the grace of God.

So it's just been forever . . .

Since I wrote a new blog post! Sometimes we get too busy to keep up, or be introspective. Parish life has been very busy. I'm fortunate to be of service to several churches in our area. There aren't enough hours in the day to finish new compositions, arrangements, recording.

I'm so lucky to be at Divine Word. Great people, great community.

I've been very inspired by our local Encore Chamber Music concerts, run by good friend Jinjoo Cho. Jim and I are very happy to once again host Encore Lutier Yair Hod Fainas and Archetière Delphine Petitjean and their darling daughter. What a great way to start the summer!

So, back at it . . . 

Today is Pentecost!

So, paraphrasing Fr. Dave's homily for today:

Our God is a consuming fire! The warmer our souls become, the more God burns away our impediments. Compassion is kindness, humility, patience. Ground yourself in the love of God and may the peace of Christ control your hearts. When we're at peace, we can see God.

John 18:38 "What is truth?" Pilate asked.

The Lesson for Today: The truth is interpreted - or should I say clouded - by everyone's opinion. (And EVERYONE has an opinion!) What slays me is when people deliberately mislead you into believing them so you can be manipulated. It happens more often than we know! Sometimes it takes years to discover that someone has not been honest. It's no consolation to realize that you've been fooled.

So, pray for truth. That you can see someone for who they really are to know if they are telling you the absolute truth. Not truth that's just good for them, but good for all.

Mother Teresa said, "Some people come into your life as blessings. Some people come into your life as lessons."

What's good for the soul?

So, what's good for the soul? It varies. Sometimes you can be introspective, sometimes you must devote yourself to making society a better place. People are always saying they want to be happy, and yet, happiness eludes them. Do they seek possessions that fail to bring long-term happiness or experiences that are fleeting? Then, on to the next thing that might give them a small amount of happiness for a short time.

I've found true happiness can be found in service to others, even in small things. Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.