Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Incredible Retirement

About this time a week ago, my beloved and I were strolling up Nelson's very own Ward Street, heading for home and supper, and ruminating over the just passed whoop up, in the main gallery of the new museum, concerned with her retirement as archivist and collections manager of the Nelson Museum, Art Gallery, and Archives Association. It had, of course, been nothing but a love-in, with lots of appropriate tears and laughter, the sort of thing that has to happen when you sort-of put out to pasture one of the greatest combinations of heart and brains you've ever seen and heard saunter through the universe at hand on a daily basis. This clambake, she hoped fervently, had finally brought to an end literally weeks of notice from the local news outlets, city council, and anyone else who could get into the act. It's one of the things we do in organized society - honour the souls who have served us well - but it's also a bit of strain on those who truly understand what it is to be useful. It's the job that counts and challenges and consoles, not the foofoorah that comes afterward.
Earlier than that, she had announced that we should attend the Nelson Choral Society's performance of Handel's Messiah, and I had bought tickets. This was before she realized, having her head down in the closing days of her work, that as she had two weeks of holidays coming to her, her first official day of retirement would be the Sunday of the Messiah performance. To tell the whole truth, it was not she that understood this simple principle of the ordinary work year, but her successor at the helm of the good ship Touchstones, who is very particular on all the management stuff, having a considerable bigger staff than Shawn used to have - except when Shawn had provincial and/or federal grants fueling activity at the old site - and also just super-efficient anyway, brought this particular revelation down to the archives basement.
Thus, 60 jubilant voices, four fine soloists, the twenty assembled musicians of the Selkirk Chamber Orchestra - containing two former members of the Vancouver Symphony - and a thunderously appreciative capacity audience were all on hand on the Sunday that marked her first official day of retirement. I didn't realize this myself until half-way through the first half of the performance, but when it did occur to me I was pleasantly struck by the auspiciousness of it all. God was not only good, but significant.
Later on, I realized that with the possibility of my wife being around the house a lot more, I was reminded of when we very first met, and felt as if I were twenty-two all over again, although happily a lot wiser. I hope.
And now I have just emailed the Columbia Basin Trust about its possible interest in the music publication aspect of the recent research. Some years ago, talking with a different government organization drew the most amazingly unintelligent response. It will be interesting to see if this group is more capable of actually thinking, especially with Herself around to help shed the light.
"And the government shall be upon their shoulders."

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Capuchin Town Hall

Because I grew up loving anniversaries as much as I loved good old Mother Nature, when I discovered Catholicism I thought I'd died and gone to heaven. Yet again. Being a mystic from three on means continual death and rebirth. Hollywood and even the Brits and the wise filmers of Europe remain light years behind my take on life. But maybe they'll get their sorry butts into gear. I read that Benedict invited the artists in for a chat. Like tea with the headmaster at Eton. (I'm currently, finally, getting into John le Carre and reading his book two, set in the environs of a "public" school in Dorset. Very upper middle class and full of British caste effeminacy, but a jolly good read from a very crafty pen.)
Not that Benedict is Eton, even thought Eton, given the current climate between some Anglicans and Rome, might become Benedictine. (Clever, right? But there is a hallowed community between artists and the debts they owe each other. I could never have pulled this off without Le Carre.)
Where were we?
Ah yes. A couple of nights ago our excellent bishop threw his second annual town hall meeting, looking for feedback on his proposals for livening up the faith in the diocese. In the spirit of the ex-troubadour who, along with Saint Dominic, saved Europe from going to hell for its attachments to the new prosperity, our newish ordinary is extraordinarily democratic. He is the boss, because he explodes in favour of decency, integrity, common sense, justice for all, in the manner which only bosses can do, given how the Almighty deals out the grace in organized societies, but he always does it in such a way that anyone with two real thoughts to rub together is confident of getting a good ear.
In my experience, he is profoundly unusual among Canadian bishops, which means that the diocese of Nelson, after decades of lumbering along with all the grace of a mountain troll (J.K. Rowling) might finally be able to spell PERFECTION. Remember the gospels? "Be ye perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect."?
Unbeknownst to me, as I have as yet never had any good reason in recent years to try to share Saint Thomas, John of the Cross, and the real Scriptures with diocesan organizations, and do not thus belong to the local think tanks, Bishop John's researchers have actually come up with a useful and interesting plan, by way of relating young and old in one viable faith community.
All this popped out on Tuesday night. So, naturally, as my studies of the modes are now at the stage where I know how to deal with the four voice keyboard parts of the old Saint Basil's hymnals without getting the headaches of frustration that come from inadequate technique, there would seem to be an opening for a youth choir that would be adequately trained in the principles of these skills. How these youngsters would overcome the appetite for slop - John Paul's words - that has built up over the decades remains to be seen, of course. Dogs do return to their vomit. But it's worth a try. And there have been signs of it working already.