I had been a chorister as a kid and – with my “salad boy soprano days” in retrospect – began to engage in the Episcopal Church beyond the $1.50 weekly pay I received for warbling. I struck out on my own one Sunday morning in Kansas City, Missouri for an Easter Service at a high Episcopal Church. Those were the days when there were few high churches in the Diocese of Western Missouri and that church was St. Mary’s, “all the way downtown.”
The church was from the mid-nineteenth century and one of the Beretta Belt outposts of a time of Episcopal manifest destiny. It was beautiful – with all the trappings of dark wood, a gigantic marble altar, smells and bells galore, light and dark. It all captured me somewhere – I guess I would say the still small voice for a kid from the sixties with many bad habits. It was the first time I had experienced polyphonic music in its home, a full brass quartet, Bach supreme, tympani, and robust congregational participation. Easter for this simple-Midwestern farm boy was “where it’s at.”
At age 15, with a changed voice and a freshly minted learner’s permit, I struck out on my own at a tiny high church in Kansas City, St. John’s. Without the resources of St. Mary’s but using all my wits and persuasive powers and dragging along fellow high schoolers to play brass, move tympani and sing, we became the proverbial merry band of musicians looking inward, outward and historically for an explanation of many issues.
St. John’s was a wonderful place – welcoming and warm, particularly to this bunch of hippies from the other side of the track. I have tried to share that “madeleine-moment” with others through music: that joy of Easter, that excitement, that personal sense of the beyond, that thin space.
I hope you, too, eagerly anticipate Easter, sing your hearts out, and share a profound time of new beginnings, hope, and joy! Easter is indeed “where it’s at.” Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia.