You never know what your words are going to do to another person. Sometimes it is obvious from the reaction received. Like when I told my husband that I was racked with pain and my hands were swollen and tender, the reaction – please go to the doctor. The tenderness with which he spoke those words confirmed his concern for my well being. Beautiful on many levels.
Last week I had a conversation that mentioned in passing a “cantankerous male organist” within the main body of a longer verbal output. The reaction was not palpable in the room. No one present could have known what was going on inside my panic-stricken body. I staved off the historical reaction of running screaming from the room and to all intents and purposes was as peaceful and calm as the previous minute.
In the British Methodist church I know there are male pianists and organists, I am Facebook friends with a few of them. They appear well-read, articulate and intelligent with a passion for worship music among other things. So that’s the first thing I knew.
Men can be cantankerous and so can women and entering into a church or chapel does not change that aspect of their personality. God can change it if they are open to changing but walking into a sanctuary does not change any element of our personality. Of course, there are those who have a personality transplant on entering a church, I believe the term is a hypocrite. I am not talking about those. So the second thing I knew is there are cantankerous people in the church.
But what I didn’t know, or what had not appeared as a blip on my radar was that in Ireland there could be male organists, cantankerous or otherwise. I had only spoken to female pianists, full of passion and on fire to deliver melody lines for the congregations to sing to. And even as I write this I realise I have met a wonderful male organist in Bandon. It is amazing how context is everything.
You see a hundred years ago I attended a chapel with a male organist. I was two when I first met him and he was a bit-part player in my life before taking a lead role one night when I was eight. Many things I had forgotten over the years, one of which was his role in church life. Again, amazing how time changes context.
When the old chapel became disused when I was about four he didn’t attend Sunday services in the new one with his wife. And no one ever asked. I suppose the congregation, and it was big so wasn’t closed due to dwindling numbers, dispersed to other churches and some like him stopped going.
I am reading a book today full of stories of ordinary people who lived lives of faith that planted seeds in other people. His wife planted a seed in me, for many years it lay dormant but began to grow again so that now I take on her mantle to sow, to proclaim the good news vocally but more importantly in the way I live my life.
This man was not cantankerous so I don’t know why I suddenly was transported back to that first methodist chapel. Me bringing up the NCH offering with him playing softly in the background. Oh, so many years have passed, so many wrong turns, u-turns and running round in circles have happened since then.
It is good to have another image I can call on now when I think of him. I began to tell my husband about the conversation I didn’t get past the word organist and he swept me in his arms. Time heals. God heals.
And I live a healed life.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”Matthew 11:28-30