I’m writing from General Assembly, this year in Kansas City – not that I’ve yet explored what looks to be kind of a cool place, but we’ll see. Today I’ll start wearing down a path between the hotel and the Convention Center, and I’m not sure how much deviation from said path will occur over this week.
I’m here as the GA Choir Director, which is a great honor. I’m a bit terrified, but hoping that once rehearsals start I’ll be okay. Meanwhile there are boxes of music to be schlepped, singers to recruit from the many UUMN members here, music packets to assemble, meetings and rehearsals for various services, and tech meetings to attend. A GA service makes what we do at FUUSN look just ridiculously simple – here, there’s a script for every service (for projection in the service, so literally, every word that will be spoken), and a flow plan with timings, and cues for videos, and as always, the somewhat complicated copyright laws which need attention – we can sing (insert song name here), but we can’t project the words, or we can’t stream it, or we can’t archive it….
But that’s all just the Stuff That Needs to Happen. What I’m hoping for this week is that the choir and I can learn how to be together, how to lift our voices in service of our faith, how to carry the vision of change and hope forward. We are all reeling, over and over and over, from the actions of our government, from world events, from the effects of climate change, and from the effects of systemic racism. But I think there’s a place for music – not just in the easy “it makes me feel better” department, but as one of the ways we reach each other, even over a vast cultural divide. One song we will sing is “Precious Lord,” which was composed after the deaths of Thomas A. Dorsey’s wife and child, and the universality of that pain and loss will be felt. “Love, once again, break our hearts open wide.” (Rev. Jason Shelton)
As I wrote last year:
When we come together, literally, on Sunday morning, into one room, to sit and stand and sing and speak together, to think, to listen, to meditate (and, later, to discuss together) – that means we have chosen to commit our selves to a common purpose. The purpose may be different from congregation to congregation, but whatever it is, it calls for (for lack of a better word) a buy-in from each of us, a promise that, in disagreement as well as passionate advocacy, we will stay together and hear each other, hear the music and the words that we hold in common. When we open our hearts and minds to the work of worship, we emerge renewed and refreshed, ready to engage in our work in the world. -Anne Watson Born