27 March 2011

Sunday Thoughts

After a frenetic week and a Saturday busier than expected, today is my one day to actually rest. And I found myself recreating a pattern from a while back when I would sometimes end spending weekends in the Bay Area. Drive up to the city for Sunday morning services at the majestic, awe-inspiring Grace Cathedral, then drive west on California Street across Van Ness to the Whole Foods market, get something healthy from their buffet for lunch, drive northwest to Lafayette Park (on a mid-city hilltop with views of the bay in two directions), and sit under some beautiful old trees, soak up the sunshine and the views, eat my politically correct organic natural lunch, read, savor the fresh air and sunshine. Those Sundays were truly days of rest.

And today I found myself doing almost the same thing without realizing it. Went to church here in San Diego, then ended up at Whole Foods for a bit of lunch and was planning a stop in the park. Ran out of time though, had a rehearsal. But it was fun walking through the Whole Foods after church, made me feel like I was back in San Francisco. I sure love that place. I don't know if I'll ever find the words to say how much I love Gothic architecture and its soaring sunlit spaciousness.

It's been unseasonably cold here lately. Today was more like the temperature we're used to. I love spring, because I love summer most of all. And anticipation is wonderful.

Hung out earlier this week with a buddy and his kids. They were all smart and funny and we had a delightful time. When we get both sets of kids together they will forget all about the dads, I'm sure.

One of the things I like about waking up in the morning is a bowl of Grape-Nuts, soaked to slightly soggy, and a ripe banana. I don't bother slicing the banana into the cereal, I just take alternating bites. One of the best breakfasts ever.

Simple pleasures are often best. A small group of us in the Master Chorale performed Ralph Vaughan-Williams' "Serenade to Music" with the symphony a couple weeks ago. I normally sing the low bass part but this time I was tasked with singing baritone, which meant I got to belt out the B natural that made the major chord at one of the climactic moments of the piece. I never get to do that. I felt like Pavarotti. We got a great review. Another one checked off the bucket list.

Found a great place to hang out downtown. Relaxed atmosphere, great food, great music. Spent an evening working there this past week. And another exploring some other places with friends. Walked into one last night around 11:30 and it was packed, but virtually silent. Every single person had a laptop or other screen-equipped device and was staring into it. The baristas were making most of the noise, other than occasional keyboard clacking from patrons. Weird.

I've been part of a discussion this week about Brandon Davies being kicked off the BYU basketball team. Friends from across the spectrum have participated and I've learned a lot about everybody that's taken part. In some ways I was reminded of the Proposition 8 campaign when tempers and tolerances were being pushed to extremes. And I was lucky enough to run across something very insightful from Salt Lake Tribune columnist Robert Kirby. He's the author of the classic humor piece Five Kinds of Mormons.

Only this time Kirby was a little more serious, and made some excellent points. It'd be nice to hear someone speak in church with these thoughts as their theme.

Basically, he pointed out how conservative religions--not just the Mormon Church--often end up enforcing a culture of facades and deception as everybody tries to look like they fit the orthodoxy they think everyone else expects. "Honesty can be a real liability at church, which is funny considering all that emphasis on love and compassion and truth. While a certain amount of conformity is expected in any group, you don’t have to step too far out of line at church before you start scaring people."

And then the money quote: "Ironically, few things scare us more than the possibility of not being completely right about something far too big for us to fully comprehend in the first place." Oh boy, how true that is. Especially for a lotta Mormons when they confront the gay people in their midst. Mormon culture fosters such a high-voltage attitude of "gotta be certain about as much as possible as often as possible", and the thought that The Gay could be anything other than All Kinds of Bad is, to quote Vizzini, "absolutely, totally, and in all other ways inconceivable."

But we know so little. The most brilliant inspired people can't explain most of what surrounds us in the world. Or what happens when we die. Or how/why the Big Bang started. Or why a beautiful rose is so beautiful. Or how a baby feels as he/she finally figures out how to walk for the first time. And they certainly can't explain what God might have in store for girls who love girls, or boys who love boys. And there have been millions of them. Yet so many insist on "being completely right" about this thing that's "far too big for [them] to fully comprehend in the first place."

I certainly stopped worrying about all of that a while back, and I find I'm much happier as a result. Focus on what I can do and influence. Do justly, love mercy, walk humbly. Seek justice, speak out against unfairness of any kind. Try to treat others as I hope they'll treat me. And let God sort out the rest of it.

Another of life's simple pleasures. Working away on something and having a chat screen pop up from a friend. Somebody actually cares enough to reach out. That's what it's all about, isn't it? Priceless.


Steven B said...

I'm envious. Love that Vaughan Williams piece!

J G-W said...

Nice piece, cool thoughts. Thanks!