Saturday, November 21, 2009

Table Blessings

BLESSED THANKSGIVING Pictures, Images and Photos

I just read a rather wonderful article
and thought I should share it with you.
It's a collection of table blessings
from many cultures.

I must admit,
the one that most struck me
was the Pagan Prayer:

"Blessed be the earth for giving birth to this food.
Blessed be the sun for nourishing it.
Blessed be the wind for carrying its seed.
Blessed be the rain for quenching its thirst.
Blessed be the hands that helped to grow this food,
to prepare it this day and bring it to our tables,
that it may nourish our bodies, minds and spirits.
Blessed be our friends, our families
and loved ones who share in this meal today.
Blessed be."

Thanks to Helen Gray
of the Kansas City Star
for this wonderful collection of table prayers.

My prayers to all
for a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Saturday, November 14, 2009


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Thursday, November 5, 2009

My Ensoniq

Musicians have an attachment to their instruments.
Whether or not that is healthy,
I cannot say.
But we do.
We become so very attached to the instrument we serve with.

I am no different.
I have a particular love for my Ensoniq.
She’s not your everyday keyboard.
She is the Rolls Royce of keyboards.

You can lay tracks.
I can play the piano, and then layer over that. . .
. . .with bass, with guitar, with whatever instrument
I think may be needed.
But it’s really all the keyboard.
All of the instruments are in her memory.
Would I ever decide to do studio work,
the main bulk of the work would be, could be
done at home on this instrument.

She is midi.
I can play and then play back on computer.
I can print the music
to that which was just played.

She has an idea pad
where I can store bits and pieces
of musical information
while a new piece is being composed.

She has a transposer.

I could write and write and write.
She has all the bells whistles.

I must say that it is her “Perfect Piano”
that made me fall in love with her at the music store.
It was such a rich sound,
such rich sounding bass notes. . . . .
I was sold.
That “Perfect Piano”
is the sound for which Ensoniq
gained her infamy.

But you see,
I didn’t buy her.
Purchase of this instrument
was a group effort.

I belong to a group called
“Cántico de la Mujer Latina.”
We originally formed to do a one-time event
for the National Association of Pastoral Musicians.
The NPM came to Michigan
for a regional convention in Grand Rapids.
Virgil Funk called me
and asked me to do something “hispanic.”
I formed this group of Latinas
for a “Tarde de Alabanza”
(an afternoon of praise)
which featured music, poetry and theology readings
all written by Latina composers, poets and theologians.
It was to be a one time deal.
We’d rehearse,
do the event and that would be that.

after that event,
we were flooded with calls to take our program
to this place,
to that place. . .
. . .could we serve for this mass. . .
For this women’s retreat. . . etc., etc., etc.
Some 12 years later,
Cántico del la Mujer Latina is standing strong.

Cántico purchased this instrument,
the Ensoniq keyboard.
One of our members gave a rather large donation.
The rest of the funds were raised
by concerts, selling holy cards, etc.
The group purchased this instrument.

A group of my very best friends
worked hard
so that I could have a keyboard
that we could serve with as a group.
A group of women
are so dedicated to their ministry
that they decided to raise funds
and purchase
that which was necessary.
And that which was purchased
was left in my care.

At the time of purchase,
the instrument alone
cost us about $3,500.00.
Add the Roland amp,
the keyboard stand. . .and. . .
well you get the idea.
This was a huge undertaking
by some women who serve
in the inner city.

The keyboard recently suffered some damage
and I have been absolutely beside myself.

The damage was done
at the hands of someone
who doesn’t even know me
and who had no authorization to move my instrument,
which he did in an absolutely abusive manner.

But I have been absolutely beside myself.
Why do I cry over a seemingly inanimate object?

After crying and reflecting on this for several days,
for about two and a half weeks,
I can only liken it to my house.
I purchased a new home about 51/2 years ago.

I recall being at the old house
on the day the water guy was to come
and take the last meter reading.
It would be the last day
I would ever be in that old house.
The house was way too small for my 3 sons.
And it housed memories of a failed marriage.

But that old house
also housed Christmas memories,
tooth fairy memories,
memories of my son’s friends spending the night. . . .
I cried and stayed in the house
long after the meter reader left.

We had already purchased
and moved into the new home
several months earlier.
It took awhile
for us to sell this old house.
And yet,
after the meter reader left,
I sat there, on the floor,
for quite some time
as there was no furniture
in this old house,
and I cried.

I love my home in Wyandotte
and have nothing but praise
for the city and my neighbors.
But every time I drive by the old house,
especially now that the new owners
have been foreclosed upon,
well, I must admit a little tear wells up.
There are memories
attached to that old house
that helped to form
the person that I am today.

It is no different with my keyboard.
I have memories attached to her.
These memories have helped to form
the pastoral musician I am today.
What memory
(besides the electronic one)
does this keyboard have?

As already mentioned,
purchase of her was a group effort.
And so,
this instrument will always hold memories for me
of those very special women
so dedicated to this purchase,
so dedicated to our very creative ministry.

She has been there with us
through many a concert.
She accompanied us
when we sang the Divine Mercy.

She has been present
for many a wedding, funeral,
and Quinceañera,
not to mention regular weekend liturgies.

She was there when my sister and I
were “dueling keyboards,”
she on the baby grand
and me on the Ensoniq,
at the parish where she serves
for a Día Doce mass
that I will never forget.
(Yeah, both my sister and my brother
are pastoral musicians!)

The Ensoniq has accompanied such groups
Les Petits Chanteur,
a boy’s choir from France;
Cantores Minores,
a boy’s choir from Poland

She has accompanied
Marambistas Fantasticos,
a youth marimba ensemble
from Chicago.

She prepared us for many out of town events. . .
. . .North Park University in Chicago. . .
. . . .Southwest Liturgical Conference in Albuquerque. . . .
. . . Basilica of Our of Guadalupe in Mexico City. . .

You see,
I do have memories attached to this instrument.
It is very much alive to me,
and not just alive with song.
I don’t know that this would make sense
to anyone
unless you are a pastoral musician.
But so be it.
I have an attachment to her.
And right now,
she is not feeling so well.

You see,
someone moved her
by grabbing her from the buttons and knobs
an then
proceeded to drag her,
totally unaware
that she was being moved
without her stand. . .
had I not stopped him
the instrument would have ended up on the floor. .
. . .he was totally unaware
that the amp she was connected to
was connected to a few other instruments as well.

She now jumps from sound to sound.
She will always start off
with her Perfect Piano,
but then quickly jumps
through her other assortment of instruments.
These instruments should not make their presence known
unless and until I invite them.
since being moved so abruptly,
they are making their presence known,
and in no logical order,
and in no particular time frame.
The “C” just above middle c
is also way out of wack,
much louder than all of the keys,
regardless of which instrument
sneaks in.

It is not that easy
to find a repair person
for Ensoniqs.
The problem is
that Ensoniq went under a few years ago.
It’s very hard to get replacements parts
for this particular instrument.
What ends up happening
is that old keyboards
become “organ donors” for
instruments still in use.

I did finally find
who is about hours drive away
who can take a look at it.

The problem I see now
is financing this repair project.
I don’t think I should have to pay this repair bill.
I really don’t.
And I have sent a letter to that end.

It appears as though
the cost of repair may be covered.
So now,
we play the
“wait and see” game.
I take her to the tech tomorrow morning.
We must wait and see
what the technician tells us
about her condition.
And then,
we wait and see if the cost will, in fact, be covered.

You know,
it’s like watching an old friend die.
It’s like,
there may be a cure,
but the illness may just be too far advanced.

Yeah. . .
It’s like driving by my old house. . .
I sold it to a nice young family.
But now the house is empty. . .
. . .foreclosed. . .overgrown grass, etc.
Not exactly what I would have hoped
for that old gal. . . .

I don’t know how much damage was done
to the keyboard.
It may be a lot
or just something very small,
something very easy to fix.

But you know,
I have been fearing the worst.

I guess all electronic instruments
will die sooner or later.
But you know,
it would have been much easier
to watch her die of natural causes.
The irony is
that my instrument nearly died
at the hands
of someone who claims to be pro-life.

I did not volunteer countless rehearsal hours
to be prepared for an event
only to have my instrument damaged
by someone I don’t even know.

And even though
there are many who are supporting me
through all of this,
many who understand what I feel here,
the person who damaged my instrument
has yet to offer an apology.
And you know,
I really don’t think he ever will.
And to tell the truth,
I think that hurts me just as much.

My friend, Marcy,
always reminds me
that everything happens for reason.
I’m still praying
to see what the reason is,
what the lesson is for me in all of this.

You know,
I ended up in an urgent care facility recently.
I wonder what connection,
if any,
this has to do with my ailing keyboard. . . .

They say pets imitate and resemble their owners.
I wonder. . . .
Do pastoral musicians
resemble their musical instruments???