Tag Archives: music

The Wonders of Dual “Virtual Church”

The Wonders of Dual “Virtual Church”  —by Jinny Batterson

For the past few years, I’ve attended services at two different religious congregations, one a predominantly “white” Unitarian-Universalist group, the other a predominantly “black” African Methodist Episcopal church.  This “dual citizenship” religiously has enriched my spiritual life greatly while posing some practical problems. The physical buildings of the two congregations are several miles apart—a ten-minute commute by car. Both churches have traditionally held their in-person services at 11 a.m. on a Sunday morning, so I’ve had to decide each week which service to attend. Sometimes I can “double up” and slip belatedly into the latter part of the AME service, which tends to run a little longer. 

Enter the covid-19 pandemic. This viral scourge has caused lots of changes in our customary ways of ordering our lives, not the least of which has been a temporary set of restrictions on large interpersonal gatherings.  Now both churches hold their Sunday services virtually. If I set up my computer correctly, I can switch instantaneously between the two, catching both sermons and most of the music both places. Most weeks, the recordings of the services stay on the internet for a few days, so if I miss part of a reading or story, I can catch it on Monday or Tuesday.

This past Sunday, the UU sermon centered on learning to slow the pace of our often frenetic lives, to savor time with family, to relearn habits of connecting that may have gotten diminished or lost altogether in our pre-covid frenzy of work/commute/family/physical health activities. The AME service reminded us that God is the ultimate arbiter of our reality, not the latest breaking news, case counts, or polling results. “We shouldn’t discount the very real challenges,” the minister counseled, while he warned us not to focus on them to the exclusion of our connection with the holy.  

The wise words from both sources helped prime me for the week ahead. The music that went with each service was healing, too. In so many ways, I’ll be glad when we have fewer issues related to corona viruses. It will be special to be able to see fellow parishioners face-to-face rather than via computer or smartphone screen. Maybe eventually I’ll have chances again to shake the ministers’ hands. There’s something for me about the experience of physically worshipping together that no virtual environment can fully replace. Still, I don’t want to forget the spiritual gifts and scheduling flexibility that this hiatus from “regular church” has offered me. 

Please stay safe, pray a lot, and remember that the gift of life is just that—a gift, to be used as wisely as we can discern, with as much spiritual help as we can find.  

Old Music Books

Old Music Books   –by Jinny Batterson

(Written in the “dog days” of summer, when the kids are ready for school to start again, when it’s easy to forget that the heat and mugginess will one day dissipate–music can be the best comfort food of all.)

Boxed up several moves ago,
Shelved in a musty basement
In their most recent stowage.

Last weekend I uncrated them,
Having finally purchased a used
Piano keyboard on which to play
Some of the music they harbored.

They reek of damp and mildew.
The pages are yellowed and weathered,
But the music still flows,
If a little awkwardly
Through my arthritic fingers.

In my mind’s ear,
Some of the initial joy
Of musical discovery
Flows out of them, too,
And some of the wisdom
Of composers long since dead
Who knew not to bury their ecstasies and despairs,
But instead to float them into melody.

 

Preferences

Language Lessons

Language Lessons             —by Jinny Batterson

(On the occasion of Chinese New Year, January 31, 2014, ushering in the Year of the Horse. A memento of sorts, too, to my intermittent efforts to make progress in learning Mandarin Chinese, along with my ongoing struggles to read people’s moods appropriately.)

Chinese, such a difficult tongue to master:
Is this syllable spoken slowly, or faster?
First tone, second, third, or fourth, falling?
Is it “apple ping” or “bottle ping,”
Or maybe even “TV screen ping”?
Past leader Deng Xiaoping,
Current president Xi Jinping,
Or some less known local student Ping?

Emotive language harder still to learn.
Is the reason for your stoic scowl concern
At the widening rich-poor gap?
Or did our waitress,
Flustered in this festive season,
Accidentally spill hot coffee on your lap?

Ode to 40 (or 50 or 60)

Ode to 40 (or 50, or 60…)
by Jinny Batterson

(This piece was written as I and some of my “boomer” friends were beginning to realize that we were no longer young adults.  My apologies to Ludwig van B. (who, were he still alive, would be turning 245 on December 16, 2015) for appropriating his tune.)

Hair is graying, folks are saying:
“Eat more fiber, eat less fat.”
Clothes are shrinking, waistline sinking–
Liver spots, it’s come to that!

Ever faster, time marches onward,
Though we vainly shout out, “Halt!”
And the bad world situation,
Young ones know, is all our fault.

We have reached the middle passage,
We have reached the prime of life.
We have known some joys and sorrows–
Years have brought both peace and strife.

We are learning, “Live in the moment,”
Sensitive and powerful, too.
Baby boomers struggling onward,
Spotlighted in all we do.

As we contemplate the future,
We are brave, and we are cowed:
Gadgets new and disappearing,
Google Glass, computing cloud.

Now the way is often foggy,
As old icons fade or die.
We have reached the age of “maybe,”
Halfway between earth and sky.