Monday, November 20, 2006

Songwriter Sunday

This morning, I decided I would visit Christ Church Cathedral. This is the Episcopalian church I visited this summer, in my post-Stamps-Baxter days.

As I walked up to the front door of the church, I started to get very nervous. I couldn't really figure out why. I'm very comfortable in all kinds of churches, and I always love visiting a new church. And then, it dawned on me: I wasn't simply visiting this church. I was starting my search for a new home church.

Ugh! Everything dropped right into the pit of my stomach. I've never in my life had to search for a new home church. I've just always attended Dad's church. And now, in a new city, in a new country, I have to find a new church. One where Dad is not the priest, and nobody knows me from Adam. It's not even like attending a new church in Toronto where I might know one of the priests, or they at least would have heard of St. John's. It's going to be all brand new.

I'm sure, at some point, this will be a wonderful and dynamic change. But this morning, all I could think about was how many things are changing and how quickly our "normal" is going to shift. As Gerald pointed out, the last time my world changed this much, it was a completely traumatic experience. This is, obviously, very different and very positive. But I think my body relates change to tragedy, so it's probably bracing for the worst.

I found a pew in the middle of the church, and it really is a striking church. Beautiful stained glass, including 2 windows made by Tiffany himself. The choir is traditional and stunning, as the voices drift over you from the upper gallery. And the dark green paint and rich wood trim combine to make the huge sanctuary quite comfortable. It was a Communion service, with a lots of hymns and liturgical music - all very cheerful. They call their book The Book of Common Prayer, but it's almost identical to our much more contemporary Book of Alternative Services, so that felt homey to me.

The preaching was excellent (a perfect 15 minute Anglican sermon!). He spoke about the dangers of making success, materialism, and secular activities our "religion". He challenged us to look into our datebooks. Can you find something in the past week that honoured God? Can you find something in there that served someone in need? If not, challenge yourself to do both in the next week. A great exercise...

After church, I found out about their women's ministry, and picked up a newsletter. They're having a speaker for their women's group next Sunday. I think I may go. The church shopping has begun...

This afternoon, Gerald and I attended our first official songwriter's event since arriving last Sunday. Doak Turner is a songwriter, who has started a brilliant networking opportunity. Once a month, he hosts a party at his house. And at first glance, it just seems like a good time - lots of food, a beautiful setting, and 50 people in the mood for a good time. But this is clearly a party where the song wins out over the food. (Don't mistake me: The food was awesome!)

Everyone gathers about 3:00pm, and grabs something to eat. After the paper plates are tossed, and the grease from the fried chicken is wiped off the fingers, then the real party begins. Everyone pulls out their guitars and finds a room in the house, and just starts playing songs. I mean, every room in the house! With the exception of the bathroom and the kitchen, every room is just full of people playing their songs for each other. There is a keyboard in each room for the keyboard players, and one room is assigned to hold guitar cases.

Each room becomes a "round". A round is a common Nashville phrase where the songwriting conch is passed around. I play a song, the person next to me plays a song, and so on around the circle til it's my turn again. It's a very popular format for songwriting concerts. At first, I was completely intimidated. I mean, I write a few songs, but I know I'm a singer first. I don't have a huge rep of songs that I can just pull out and play and sing at any time. So, at first, I just sat back and listened as Gerald joined in the round. (Totally Gerald's element!)

But after a while, I got the itch, and I did the few songs I could do by myself. I was completely nervous, but so happy I did it. When I did "I Call Out Your Name", an impromptu choir formed and we had full harmonies on the chorus. What a blessing!

We met lots of great people, including a lot of folks who moved here from all over the country to chase their dreams. All week, I have been frustrated that it has taken us a whole week to get out to a songwriting event, but I met a lot of people who've been here for months and they're just getting out now. Guess it's all relative.

We hear about the apartment tomorrow. Fingers crossed. Prayers raised...

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