Thursday, April 23, 2009

Service Recap--Part III

April 23, 2009

Davis headed back to Houston yesterday to take his finals. Spanish today and everything else is on a customized timetable (not just for Davis, but for everyone). That's the way a lot of the classes go. Each final can last up to five hours and class sizes are prettysmall, so students make arrangements individually. Some professors can't write a final that students can finish in five hours. For those situations, I think they fall back on projects and papers.

I can't really tell you how our days go. We seem to fill them with tasks, some meaningful and many meaningless, but on the whole I think that's better than falling into an abyss. I have taken Janice Pinney's advice to try and accomplish at least one thing each day. Yesterday, I remembered to renew my automobile insurance (which was set to expire by the end of the day). Talk about a meaningful task and just-in-time! Since I sent Davis back to Houston in my van, I think this was a pretty good save. We manage to watch The Rachel Maddow Show most weeknights, though if I miss the 8:00 broadcast, I don't always stay awake all the way through the 10:00 showing. I know I live in modern times and could watch it right on my computer anytime, but I find relief in actually making myself follow the evening programming schedule. We have also kept up with eating (though we don't do as well with keeping the dishes cycling through the dishwasher and back on to the shelves).

I have certainly enjoyed hearing the little vignettes of what people have accomplished (only partly) because they kept the concepts of "Going Forward" or "Let's Do It" or some other Erin inspiration in their heart. Congrats to Brooke for passing her comps wearing her Erin lanyard and to any of the rest of you who worked or played a little harder today with Erin in your heart.

Amazingly enough, this has been a remarkable spring for birds (I think the drought has kept some of them around here longer than they normally would stay, just so they can have a ready source of libation from the lake). We have a pair of Canadian geese cavorting around, a whistling duck couple that never leave each other's orbit, and possibly some very shy wood ducks. I got to add a new bird to my life list (okay, my life list of bird spottings is incredibly short, because I am just not very good at looking in the right place at the right time): a painted bunting. You can see why this is special:

I think this is the last entry about Erin's memorial service. I have managed to get the service bulletin into a form that I can upload, and I wanted to end on the music, which did so much to capture the true light touch that Erin passed through life with.

This is the bulletin cover:

Jane Van Valkenberg played a Robert Hobby arrangement of Beethoven's Hymn to Joy as the prelude. Erin could play a much simpler version on her piano, but it was a piece that we both enjoyed--simple or enhanced. I don't have an audio file of the particular arrangement Jane played, but you can click here: Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee and scroll down to play a midi file of the tune (I have included links to midi files for all the music in this entry. . .unfortunately none of the audio is actually from Erin's service. I think a recording of the service may exist but I haven't taken the time to track it down yet).

The entire church filled with voices during the first hymn, I Danced in the Morning. Even though it was hard to face the Chancel full of brightly dressed Erin lovers and sing this song without completely falling apart, I did. Erin and Davis both loved this hymn and would belt it out, any time, just so they could sing the chorus. It's one of the few hymns I know just by its number in the hymnal (#302).

Walter and I had hoped the Youth Choir could sing in the service, but knew that they probably had nothing "funereal" prepared. Erin died right before Easter weekend (a busy time for our youth because they do the entire sunrise service, plus a fundraiser pancake breakfast for the church). How delighted we were when we found that Esther Carrigan, their director, had a tune already worked up that we could have: We Walk by Faith and Not by Sight. Our next worry was that our youth choir is actually a quartet, a very talented quartet, but how could we ask four young people to stand alone in the chancel and sing out? Somehow, the quartet morphed into something much larger, and we got to see the largest assembled youth choir I have ever heard in our church. They truly sounded like a choir of angels. The Chancel Choir and the Witness to the Resurrection Choir (I like to think of this as Choir Plus!) joined the youth up front, not to sing the anthem, but to have their backs in what must have been a difficult task of sitting face out to the brimming full sanctuary of Erin fans.

The second anthem featured the organ and violin and the hymn tune, Nettleton. Walter and I requested this piece, which in the hymnal is called "Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing."
This recording doesn't really do justice to the beauty and life that Carl and Jane infused this anthem with, but all the other recordings were just toooo slow. I think Jane actually composed the violin accompaniment that Carl played, so if you weren't there, just imagine a foot-stomping fiddle setting the tempo to this absolutely enchanting song.

We chose "For All the Saints" as the last hymn, because I always felt so uplifted when my brass group played it on All Saints Day. We didn't have an entire brass ensemble at Erin's service, but something even better: John McSpadden, trumpeter extraordinaire, played. And man, did he play.

We ended the service by walking out to Handel's "Hornpipe" from Water Music. Walter and I got shepherded down to the Carter Creek Foyer to hug the line of Erin lovers. In the meantime, Jimmie Homburg took Erin's Sunday School class out the front of the church to do a butterfly release (look for a later entry about why I can't stop laughing every time I think of this event). The afternoon was a little chilly for the butterfly tastes. They didn't charge out of the box, but lingered, seemingly wanting to be part of the experience.


  1. Your sister loves you and misses you very much! Would love to get together soon!

    Hugs and Kisses from both Emma and I to all the Buengers and Moo!


  2. You chose beautiful hymns for Erin's services! I've always loved "Lord of the Dance". I'm pretty sure when I was in charge of the school choir in junior high the teachers got tired of singing it almost every week at mass. :)

    Continuing to think of you and send lots of prayers.

  3. Thinking of you

  4. The entire service was perfect. I had forgotten how much I loved the tune "Simple Gifts". I bought it from iTunes and have listened to it every day since to remind myself to keep the important things in mind. Some days I think I should set it on repeat.

    Take care,

  5. Music hath charms. I am so lucky to be part of a Congregational church whose whole congregation sings very powerfully. Sometimes I just let the sound wrap around me. Thanks for sharing these sweet memories with all of us. Thanks for all the stories and memories. Jane

  6. Sounds like a beautiful tribute to your special girl. I have always wanted to see a painted bunting...glad you got the pleasure. Did you take that awesome photo, or borrow it to show us how beautiful? Either way, I was excited for you.

    Peace to you~
    Shea VB

  7. Vickie,

    I loved the songs at Erin's service. Especially "I Danced in the Morning!" Truly beautiful while picturing Erin dancing with Jesus with her bright red hair!!!
    Thank you so much for sharing!
    Miss ya,


  8. Vickie,

    This was so beautiful. To be honest, I was not sure how I was going to make it through. Although we had never met in person, I feel as if we are long friends.

    Since I was flying solo, they sat me pretty close to the front.

    When you came out and sat down, Davis put his arm around you and I lost it. Such a special person your son.

    The service was amazing and I'm so thankful that I was able to make it.

    I also loved the butterflies. It was hilarious when she dumped them out on what appeared to be some poor child's head. Classic moment that was great.

    By the way, as wonderful as I think you are, anyway, I've not forgotten our conversation. I don't know if I'll ever forget it.

    Take care,