That’s no Cone of Silence, that’s My Life!

Wouldn't it be great if The Cone of Silence actually worked!

It’s not for lack of anything to say that I haven’t posted in a week and a half. I’ve just been having more adventures than even I thought possible, and I have a pretty good imagination for possibility. There’s been too much to say, and I haven’t been able to shovel fast enough. Since we last snacked on various quotato and quotata on Friday, November 5, I have attended:

  • A day-long Diocesan Convention where my only responsibility, besides eating what they put in front of me, was to hand out copies of the paperback “The Best Spiritual Writing of 2010” to seven unsuspecting and somewhat random people of my choosing, courtesy of my recent decision to join the local board of Episcopal Church Women. I loved getting to play Santa at the convention, and I didn’t even have to wear a wig, a beard, or a red suit.
  • Two different plays by the rising playwright Annie Baker: “Body Awareness” and “Circle Mirror Transformation.” Both plays were stunning — in their wisdom, in the beauty and power of the productions by two different theater companies, and in the ways they related to each other, without sharing anything other than the same fictitious small town setting and the same author. If you get the chance to see one of Annie Baker’s plays, GO.
  • The baptism of the first grandchild of two friends of mine. As the priest (Jeff) held the baby (Charlie) and put water on his head three times, little Charlie looked up into Jeff’s face, reached up his chubby hand, and rested his palm on Jeff’s cheek, all while never breaking eye contact with Jeff. It was one of those extraordinary wordless moments that there are not enough words to describe. Plus, as I’ve written before, I love the ritual in the baptismal service of renouncing things, and the challenge of actually renouncing something successfully. Since I’ve already renounced easy stuff, like satin, this time I renounced fear. My renunciation didn’t keep fear at bay for as long as I’d like, but it was a good start.
  • Two services at Emmanuel Church, including two gorgeous choral motets and two very different and equally gorgeous Bach Cantatas. I was a last-minute-substitute reader at this past Sunday’s service. I got to read a passage from Thessalonians about how it’s important not to be an idle busybody and how people who do not work should not eat. Nice. At least I got to read it myself, with my own inflections and rhythms, rather than sitting and hearing someone else read it and feeling lectured to regarding the evils of my unemployment.
  • An all-day workshop to learn how to create Beijing Circles: small groups of people united to take action around any of 12 different U.N. goals for improving the lives of women and girls around the globe. Inspiring.
  • A wedding and reception for a parishioner who explicitly asked if I would attend both the wedding (which PW performed) and the reception. PW’s done a lot of weddings this year, and only two of the couples have sent an invitation addressed to both of us. I sat in the back of the little chapel and sang everything as loudly as I could (without screeching). I felt like I was singing solos back there since, for at least five rows in front of me, no one else was singing. At the reception, a woman introduced herself to PW and said, “That was a wonderful service.” She then turned to me and said, “And you have a wonderful voice.” I then recognized her jacket as belonging to the woman who had been sitting directly in front of me at the wedding. Good thing she liked my singing, because she heard a lot of it, across three different parts. One of the rules of being named Joy is that I have to sing the soprano, alto, and tenor parts of the “Hymn to Joy,” any time I sing it. Thankfully, I don’t have to sing all three parts at the same time. The Union of Joy got that written into my contract during our last collective bargaining agreement.
  • A concert of early chamber music by Beethoven. I have never heard much humor in Beethoven’s music until this past Sunday. One of the program notes referred to an early string trio as “Beethoven at his least disturbed.” The performances were masterful, and there was a good and lively crowd in attendance. After the concert, I volunteered to drive a terminally ill and extremely slow-moving parishioner home, walking along with her for about 20 yards to the front door, and then up three flights of stairs to her apartment. I wouldn’t bother mentioning it, but that hour of my evening on Sunday has continued to ripple around inside me in ways I still can’t describe. One of the things she said to me in the car was, “I realized at this concert tonight, for the first time ever, that I’ll get to take all of this music with me. I don’t have to leave it behind.” As we walked together, every time I thought I was keeping a slow enough pace, I had to slow down even more. It was hypnotic, like a kind of moving meditation. It was a good reminder that I can feel, and express, deep tenderness to someone I have never met before. Plus, I learned that I can walk REALLY slowly when I have to. That might not be a resume-worthy skill, but you never know when someone will need to gather an emergency posse of really slow walkers.
  • Two Monday nights at prison. This week in our closing circle, a woman began to thank us for giving her the opportunity to make cards for her family. Her thanks turned into sobs as she blurted that this would be her last class because she’s being deported, leaving behind her husband and two children — a three-year-old and a 10-month-old. Almost everyone was crying by the time we finished the closing prayer. Brutal.
  • Two early Tuesday morning Heretic School/Bible Studies. I’ve written about these before. They are such an amazing and fascinating way to begin a day, no matter who shows up. I love poking around in these texts with people who aren’t hung up on whether the truth of them has anything to do with facts.
  • Three different stints as a volunteer at my local library. My self-esteem hit a pothole awhile back (long-term unemployment will do that to a girl), and I figured that volunteering at the library might put some “jump in my rump,” as a friend of mine says. It did all that and more. Speaking of rumps, the library ladies seem to think I hung the moon, so that’s a plus.

I wish I could carry pockets full of you around with me on my wanderings. If nothing else, it would explain why I’m frequently talking to myself. I may not have a paying job, but my life is overflowing with beautiful live music, extraordinary theater productions, wonderfully generous communities of extended family and friends and readers, volunteer jobs that range from the heartbreaking to the hilarious, and most precious of all, the four remarkably loving, funny, beautiful, and brilliant women who are my home. To paraphrase Lou Gehrig, I consider myself the luckiest woman on the face of the earth.

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9 responses to “That’s no Cone of Silence, that’s My Life!

  1. btw I think you hung the moon.

  2. I felt your pain, and masterful handling, of that epistle reading. (I once had to do one about the sin of unmarried people living together.) But as we see, it’s not like you’ve been idle!

  3. You are the most employed unemployed person I know! You’re a model of engagement for those of us who are retired and trying to be more concerted about what we do with all that time. Friends, meaning to be kind and trying not to sound jealous, keep saying I’ve earned this time of leisure, which I don’t for a moment believe. Your reading on Sunday was poignant — we’ve all had to read with some kind of conviction things that we either don’t believe or aren’t living out. It’s just one of the opportunities church affords. I found myself thinking harder than usual about the words of the Creed — wondering how I could/why I should say them at all and finally saying, as usual, why not? Someday either I’ll believe more of them or someone hearing me say them will. Another thorn that church provides for our crowns. Or is that star? Write on, Dearie. We missed you for that week and a half.

  4. You really should add the bass part to your repertoire on “Hymn to Joy.”

  5. all of the above . . . and your one of your usual devastating images, “My self-esteem hit a pothole awhile back . . .”

    Jaylyn, “all that time” will fill up before you know it.

  6. As your life overflows and you share it, my cup fills as well. Please keep me in your pocket as you continue to approach life full speed ahead. You are just all sorts of Joy.

  7. Yup, there are gifts all around if I can just walk slowly enough to see them and feel them.

  8. Joy,
    You are probably able to do more now than when you were working. At least more of the things that are important to you. Keep on keeping on.

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