Friday, October 29, 2010

Community gathering and wonder

For the past few weeks, I have been blessed with good health, so I went out twice. (I mean, usually I go out to work and grocery shopping, but when I'm not feeling well, I don't want to go places any more than I have to.)

First, I attended a meeting of a simple living group. They meet once a month. At each meeting, they have a speaker on a topic of interest, and a discussion. I liked being amongst people who share my values within my community. I'm accustomed to interacting with people who share my values on the internet, and reading books by people who share my values, but it's something else to be physically in a community. In the discussion, the comment that resonated with me most was about how the politicians talk about growing the economy, no one is talking about reducing consumption.

The other event that I went to was an organ concert. Many cities and towns in my area have one Friday or Saturday evening a month designated as "art night" or a "night out." Tonight was such a night in my town. The organ concert was part of that. It was short, because it was meant to be just one stop as people wander around the downtown. It was put on by a church. I think the people running it were associated with the church, and that the audience was a mix of people from the church and people not from the church.

The audience included people of all ages. There was a little girl (daughter of the organist) who would start crawling away, and the mother would call to her, and then the girl would come back. I was impressed that a child so little that she is crawling would come when called. Before the concert started, when the organist appeared in the organ loft, one of his older kids said from the pews, loud enough for all to hear, "Hi Daddy!"

There were some people dressed in Halloween costumes greeting people as we entered. Up front, there were candles and some of the fake spiderweb stuff people use for Halloween decorations. Also in the front, unobtrusively tucked between two columns, was a skull-like head. Near the end of the last song, a figure appeared. There was a head that was like the skull of a monster, with orange eyes, and the body was draped in sheets. This figure was suspended on a line, and had been mostly unnoticed in the back of the room, but at a particular time during the performance, the figure slid forward along the line to the front of the room.

What struck me was that people put themselves into creating this experience, into the costumes, decorations, and suspended figure. They did this to enhance our experience of the concert. It's beautiful when a community creates something in this way. That's the life I want. I don't want to be shut away in my apartment glued to a computer screen. I want to be a part of my community.

I wrote that the suspended figure had been "mostly unnoticed." The little boy in front of me, who was maybe 8 or 9, noticed it partway through the show. I saw him pointing to the back of the room, and I could tell that what he saw appeared wondrous to him, but I did not turn to look. I heeded the advice of his mother, who advised him not to draw attention, because it would spoil the surprise for other people.

At the front of the room, there was a screen, on which there was a projection of the organist playing. Normally, you just see the back of the organist, and don't see the keyboard, but the screen allowed us to see the keyboard and the organist's hands playing. Before the concert started, on the screen they showed a video clip from Phantom of the Opera. When the little boy in front of me arrived, he wanted to be sure that he was sitting in a way that he could see the screen. To me, the screen was slightly interesting, but not something it was essential to see. Seeing this boy reminded me to view the world with wonder.

Between songs, the organist introduced someone whom he said was going to make an announcement about chocolate. She told us that they had little squares of fair trade chocolate for all of us, and that the chocolate came with a card about why to choose fair trade, about the child labor sometimes used in producing chocolate, and that sort of thing. I thought that was lovely -- that the church used the concert as an opportunity to share their concern for others, that the concern for others was presented in the form of giving chocolate, and that giving chocolate was so fitting for a Halloween themed concert.

I hope my health continues, so that I can continue to be a part of my community. I want to support the people who make the effort to put these things together.

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