Where I am right now
I thought I’d take just a little time to describe where I am right now. Literally, I’m sitting at my computer, typing this blog post. But figuratively, where am I? What inspires me, what intrigues me, what am I doing with my time?
To begin with, it is currently the church season of Lent, and as a Director of Music Ministries at a Methodist church, that means…BUSY. In addition to regular choir rehearsals, we are preparing for a Spring Cantata, which will be our third collaboration with another Methodist church in the area. The director of the other church’s choir is a talented arranger, and is arranging the five pieces in the cantata for a 15-piece orchestra, which he and I will take turns conducting at our respective church’s worship services on Palm Sunday.
On a personal level, I decided to give up alcohol for Lent, and to read through the New Testament over the 40 days of the season. As Sundays are traditionally “feast days,” I have decided I will have one glass of bourbon on Sundays, to celebrate the feast, as it were. And I don’t worry about reading in the New Testament on those feast days. Also, I’m trying very hard to at least read through Morning Prayer in the Book of Common Prayer each day. Overall, I’m feeling more focused on my spiritual life than I have in quite some time.
You see, Lent used to be a huge deal for me when I first rediscovered my faith back in my late 20s. I actually began attending church during Lent in 1997, after several years away. It was an Episcopal Church in Chicago, and Lent was a pretty big deal for them. So I followed Lenten spiritual disciplines very faithfully for several years after that. However, over the past many years, I have often failed to follow Lent, aside from my church duties during the season (which never go away). So it’s meaningful to recapture some of the devotion I used to give this season.
Meanwhile, I’m in training for my fourth half-marathon, which takes place on April 22, a couple of weeks after Easter. It’s not been a particularly easy training season, as my ankles and knees have been giving me a lot of trouble. Part of the aging process, I suppose, but I keep on working on it, and I hope to beat my previous time (2:18) by a couple of minutes. I really enjoy the group I run with on Saturdays, and have treasured that time with others who enjoy running, as I have come to do over the past couple of years.
Recently, I read the entire Book of Mormon for the third time, interacting with the text on bookofmormon.online, a website created by my friend KC Kern. As I’ve written on this blog in the past, I am not a Latter-day Saint, and therefore don’t consider the Book of Mormon to be scripture. However, I have been interested in the Book of Mormon as a literary work, and in Mormon history and culture. I have had several enjoyable interactions with Latter-day Saints over the years, and KC and I have become good friends (even though we’ve never met in person), as I’ve helped him beta test his site. I’ve become much more familiar with the narrative of the Book of Mormon as I’ve read it this third time. Not as familiar as I am with the Bible, of course, but I have a pretty good idea of the flow of the stories, and I find the whole thing fascinating.
Another religious text in which I’ve resumed an interest over the past week is the Qur’an. I have never read the Qur’an all the way through, a situation which I hope to remedy soon. But again, I personally have had some lovely interactions with Muslims over the years, and I’ve built a small library of different translations/commentaries on the Qur’an over the years. As I interact with these different religious texts that are not from my own tradition, I gain more appreciation for the broad spectrum of religious belief across various cultures.
Speaking of different cultures, I’ve also been working on a few languages on Duolingo: Arabic, Yiddish and Latin. It’s fascinating to me to study these languages, two of which are in non-Latin alphabets. I don’t ever expect to become fluent in any of them, but it will be enjoyable to gain at least a basic familiarity with reading them. I also want to pick up my studies in Biblical Hebrew and Greek, a practice which I’ve let slide over the past few months. I have so many resources, both in books and online, that I know I can gain a pretty good grasp on both biblical languages, with a little bit of work.
Finally, what about my blogging and podcasting. Well, I’m working on the former right at this moment, and I hope to become a little more regular in my blogging habits. I still don’t quite have the hang of how to succeed at podcasting, so I’m unsure at this point whether or not I will try to continue in that endeavor. Time will tell.
So that’s a snapshot of where I am right now. If you’ve been following my blog at all, I thank you for reading, and hope you’ll stick with me as I navigate the landscape, so to speak. I’ll write again real soon. Peace.