28 November 2010

Update (In Words and Pictures)

A lot has happened in the past few weeks. Here are the ultra-highlights:

(1) I became a godfather. The new Christian in question is Josiah William Paul Kradel, son of my dear friends Adam Kradel and Melissa Wilcox. The baptism took place at Adam's parish, Christ Church in Media, PA. It was a special day. I was struck in particular by the very real connection I felt not just with little Josiah but also with my fellow godparents. That's us, with Adam (collar) and Melissa (right of Josiah).

(2) I ran the Marine Corps Marathon. This was also a really great experience. I will be eternally grateful to my friend and training partner Josiah Rengers (lots of Josiahs in my life), who kept me motivated and talked me through the hamstring cramps that set in as we hit the Pentagon parking lot. Strangest part: the eerie isolation of mile 20, above the Potomac on the 14th Street Bridge. I think there may be more of these in my future. That's us with fellow runners Katie and Lara in our VTS Fighting Friars shirts.

(3) [Not a highlight in the positive sense:] The VTS chapel was destroyed by fire. Many of my colleagues have written movingly about what the chapel meant to us. What I eventually settled on is this: The thing I appreciated most about our little mismatched chapel is that it accepted you where you were. I find the austere Georgian/Colonial style so prevalent around here to be really alienating; it's as if at any second Jonathon Edwards might just ascend the pulpit and preach damnation at me. I much prefer the stone and Gothic Revival more typical of an Anglo-Catholic parish, but for me the space can be almost too transcendent. If I've got an off-hours need for a prayer chapel, a parish whose Sunday worship is like being in heaven throughout the service is probably gonna be overkill. But VTS's Immanuel Chapel did not put on any airs. It was a great place to pray late at night, and it was the perfect place to worship after my grandmother died last year, when all I wanted to do was sit in the back of the balcony and silently lean on my classmates and teachers doing the work of the liturgy for me. I will miss worshiping in a place that was so honest about its own imperfections. And I will miss the Miriam Window.

(4) I wrote some music. Well, I harmonized some music. I'm currently taking Advanced Musicianship at VTS, and it has been a great way to reconnect with my long-dormant jazz training. My final project was to reharmonize a hymn, so I took a few liberties with the Advent plainsong chant Conditor alme siderum ("Creator of the Stars of Night"). My favorite reaction came from my friend Carl: "That's a lot of half-step motion. I think you would've gotten burned at the stake for that."

We're entering finals mode around here, so it may be more radio silence from me for a few weeks, aside from posting the sermons I'll preach at St. John's on 2 and 3 Advent. Exciting upcoming travel includes Milwaukee for Christmas and Rome for January term. Stay tuned!