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July 7, 2010

Some Notes on Notes

From my hotel window I look down on a giant, five-story-high wall graphic of music.  It is marvelous.  Big black notes (all on bass clefs) dance across a white painted brick wall.  The music is the real thing, a portion of Ravel’s “Gaspard de la Nuit.”  The music company formerly housed in the building selected this particular piece of music for its visual potential, a web search tells me. 

This wall, at the corner of 10th and Marquette, is one block away from Minneapolis’s Orchestra Hall, which gives the location appropriate civic resonance.  In addition, for me it is a joyful reminder every morning of how important music is to my spiritual and religious life.  It is part of the web which can hold us together as the issues about which we sometimes differ attempt to pull us apart. 

The author Phyllis Tickle spoke at a breakfast meeting earlier this week, discussing her views that seismic changes are engulfing both her denomination (Episcopalian) and ours.  This roiling of the waters was unsettling to some of us, welcome news to others of us.  I left the Convention Center ballroom humming the last hymn we had sung (“Come thou fount of many blessings”).  I passed at least two people in the hall whistling the same familiar tune. 

One of the best things about Presbyterian meetings, whether small ones like those of presbyteries or giant ones like this General Assembly, is that people seem to leave their cautious voices back in their home pews.  Here they sing out bravely, lustily, heads thrown back, whether it’s the new (to some of us) canon, “Go with us Lord and guide the way/ Through this and every coming day” or the  familiar, rousing  “Here I am, Lord.” 

Now I am off to an afternoon General Assembly plenary session, where the scraping of hundreds of chairs on the hard, Conventional Hall floor, sounds like a chorus of World Cup vuvuzelas.

Who knows, before the Assembly is over, maybe we will all sing together my current favorite, “The King of love, my shepherd is/ His goodness never fail-eth.” 

by Nancy Kriplen

Tags: commissioner blog, ga219