Measured Extravagance

17 May 2003 - 9:31 p.m.

Well, hmph. It's a good thing I'm good at other things, because I received rejection notices for twelve of my poems within the past three days. (At times like these, I remind myself that Peggy Mitchell collected over thirty rejections for Gone With the Wind.) On the other hand, I drafted three new poems and I'd like to get back to the sestina I started earlier this week. It's looking like I'll have to punt the rest of my writing plans to June, though, because if I'm a good girl, I'll chain myself to my drafting table for the rest of May.

Of course, we already know I'm not going to be a good girl, but I'm trying not to be too immoderate about it. As for being good at and about other things, I finally got around to planting the anemones de Caen (expected to bloom in July, if all goes well), four mature basil plants, some mint and some tarragon. I cleaned the house a fair bit: we were expecting two overnight guests, but one of them opted out - which was just as well, because it turns out the study is currently infested with bitey bugs, so she would have had to make do with the living room sofa. The gal that did stay chez nous turned out to be a singer with the Atlanta Symphony Chorus, so we stayed up way too late talking about Robert Spano. I worked at the Mid-South District Annual Assembly as a volunteer and sang in the Assembly Choir. My new haircut is fetching. I finished knotting the fringe on the afghan I started last November - all that remains is trimming it and washing it. I'm the lay leader for tomorrow's services, and I confirmed that I'll be preaching in Cookeville later this summer (now to come up with a topic. . .). I listened to a fair amount of Monteverdi and cleared out a bunch of files. I amused some other calligraphers with my clowning. And so on.

The keynote speaker at the conference was Bill Sinkford, the president of the Unitarian Universalist Association. For me, the major revelation of his speech actually occurred during the Q&A, when a gentleman asked what UUs need to do better in order to stimulate denominational growth. Sinkford replied with two suggestions: first, that we need to increase our collective tolerance of theological vocabulary (to paraphrase him, people show up on Sunday morning looking for church - although, as he said this, I instantly thought of several members of First UU who do not participate in worship services but regularly show up for meditation and fellowship activities).

Second - and this is the one that really struck home with me - that we need to find ways to acknowledge and accept that good intentions can result in massive screw-ups. He quoted John Buehrens' observation that "he wasn't surprised at how often we shoot ourselves in the foot, just the speed at which we reload." One of his favorite hymns (and mine) is "Come, Come, Whoever You Are," a lovely, lilting round adapted from a text by Rumi:

Come, come, whoever you are
Wanderer, worshiper, lover of leaving.
Ours is no caravan of despair.
Come, yet again, come.

What I didn't know until today is that there is a bass descant not printed in the hymnal - but when Sinkford started to sing it, it seemed like half of the congregation joined in:

Even if you have broken your vows
Come, yet again, come.

Oh. Oh! Oh, I am yearning to hear both verse and descant again. Even if you have broken your vows perhaps ten thousand times, come, you are welcome here, whoever you are.

One year ago: ". . . there was a certain solace to be found in sitting at a large piano . . ."

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