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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The Last Post

Life is picking me up into new and different places these days, as I'm sure you've realized, and it's the sort of thing where I need to take it where it's taking me and do what I can with it.

Yesterday I was sorting through Lenten polyphony for an old friend; we used to sing together in college, and he's now working on a master's in Sacred Music, singing with more choirs than probably even he knows, and directing one, too. He needed some materials for these next five weeks, so I pulled out all my binders and stacks and folders and lent him every heart-rendingly, achingly gorgeous piece of polyphony I could find. Of all the sacred music I've ever sung, the text and music of the Lenten motets are what get to me the most. And this year, for the first time in more than ten years, I won't be singing them. Yes. I told my choir mates a few weeks back that I'm not going to be singing with them after our next event, which happens at the end of this month. I've sung in choirs, sometimes as many as three at a time, ever since I was twelve; this is not an easy transition.

The thing about bittersweet choices, though, is that part of them is sweet. As you might suspect, the reason I'm quitting the choir, and the reason I'm not going to be keeping up this blog anymore, is because my life is filling up with other things, good things, and people, that I love. Midwifery school is asking more of me, now that I'm at the point where I get to help deliver babies instead of just reading about it. Guess what? It turns out I'm really good at helping Mamas, helping to comfort them, and helping to make them feel strong and capable and beautiful; I'm able to help them through one of the scariest, hardest things that they'll ever do. This means I need to learn how to help them better, and spend more time with them, and with the wise women who have already spent decades serving them. (The French term for midwife is sage-femme: wise woman.)

I'm increasingly aware that life moves in phases. Different things are allowed to us and expected from us in each phase. We can't do everything in all times, and we'll only make ourselves unhappy if we try. There was a time I spent fifteen hours a week singing, another time I spent probably thirty hours a week reading literature and poetry. And for a few years there I wrote some good poetry. I also went through a couple of years where I got to practice piano a lot, and started to get reasonably good at it. I have a lot of other things that I'd like to try sometime, and still other things I can't keep up anymore that I hope one day I'll get back to. And maybe I never will.

But when you've spent time praying and reflecting, deliberating and deciding, sometimes you find the choice has already been made by you (and sometimes, blessedly, for you) without you realizing what was happening all along. And if you're lucky, the sweetness of what's waiting ahead of you will be so clearly precious that the bitterness of leaving behind what you've known and loved is worth every sting.

I beg you would not misapprehend my meaning. I have not recently woken up and realized that I no longer care about powerful words, intriguing phrases, and beautiful language. On the contrary, I'm more in love with them now than ever before. That is the way with things we love, when we really love them, isn't it? It isn't in the nature of a real love ever to regress. Love is intrinsically exponential. And each thing, each person, that we love, and our act of learning and pursuing them in our love for them, prepares us to meet whatever graces and challenges are waiting ahead of us with greater purpose and nobility. Faith's inexpugnability, which yearns to see a brave new world, shan't be disappointed.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Book Recommendation: The Paris Wife

Writing over for Dappled Things today . . . have you all heard of this book about Ernest Hemingway and his first wife, Hadley Richardson? I have a weakness for all things Lost Generation, so I'm already inclined to love anything by them or about them (you've probably picked up on this already). But, I know lots of other people who have also loved this book, so give it a shot. It's easy to read, historically informative, and has good characters.

You can visit Dappled Things' blog, Deep Down Things, to get a nice excerpt and hear more (from me) about why and how Paula McLain does such a convincing job capturing Hemingway and all his struggles.