Thirty years ago, still recovering from the professional implication of having a paralyzed vocal cord, I went for aptitude testing at the Johnson O’Connor Human Engineering Laboratory in Boston. What the testing revealed was that I was best at music, which was both reassuring and disappointing. What should I do if music – at least as a singer – was no longer an option?
One of the other professions it suggested was the ministry. This made me nervous. Though I have spent a great deal of time in churches I have always had profoundly ambivalent feelings about organized religion, and the suggestion that I was somehow “suited” to the ministry was disconcerting, to say the least.
Time passed. I still hung around in churches, hoping to find, I suppose, a Church of Music. I even preached a couple of sermons at Cornell University’s Sage Chapel and lived to tell the tale. But my last sermon was in 2004, and I hadn’t ascended the steps to a pulpit since.
Until a friend told me about the beautiful Old West Church in Calais, VT. One recent rainy day Hannah and I went to check it out. It is a remarkably simple but beautiful church, and I climbed the stairs to the pulpit to read the informational brochure that was there. Hannah snapped this picture of me pretending to be a preacher.
I returned later that afternoon with Susan and some dear friends who were visiting and we sang to each other from the pulpit and from the balcony.
It is a magical place. I love churches. I love good music in churches.