Sewanee Day Four: God’s Beauty

Holy poop guys.

The first full day of the conference has come and gone. And boy was it busy.

We started our day with a rehearsal. Lemme tell you. There’s something sort of exciting about starting the day off with some singing. It’s empowering. The clinician this week is Bob Simpson. He directs one of the most gifted and talented chamber choirs in the nation based out of Houston, Texas. He’s really a lovely man with lovely stuff to teach us.

Then we moved on to what I thought was going to be my least favorite part of the day. After all, was said and done, it actually ended up being my favorite.

It was the lecture.


Mother Takacs, one of the chaplains serving with us this week, talked with us for 45 minutes about beauty and how important it is in our church lives, our music lives, and in our general lives. It was amazing and the more she spoke, the more I was drawn in.


For those of you who may not know, I am technically not Episcopalian. Until I became a choral scholar my senior year of high school, I had zero knowledge of the Episcopal church. All I know what that it was very traditional and there was an organ. I attended a mega non-denominational church. And that was my church home for a really long time. My choral scholar job was really just that: a job. I paid attention to the services… sorta. But I mostly just sang, because that was my job. My heart and home were still at that non-denominational church. The churches that I was involved in could not be more different. In EVERY way.

But the lecture I sat in on about the beauty in creation and in the church and why we do what we do drew the two together.

Mother Takacs says, “in the midst of the ugliness and chaos of this world, we crave to find something of beauty.” We as humans long for something beautiful but we’re worried that we don’t have the time or we can’t find the time to accomplish that.

“When we are without art (or something of beauty), we are a diminished people — myopic, unlearned, and cruel.” — Dave Eggers




And how does this tie my two churches together is this:

The church is the barrier of beauty. The church offers beauty that points to something greater than itself. And that’s the love of Jesus. And whether that is shown on an organ with choir singing hymns and anthems or with a Christian rock band with drums and electric guitar playing 80’s songs that were actually written to be hymns, that doesn’t change. We’re still worshipping the same God.

Let me say that again.

We’re still worshipping the same God.

The same God that embodies beauty, goodness, and truth.

Mother Takacs ended the lecture with a question.

“When you encounter something beautiful. whether it be nature, a piece of art or music, or whatever beauty means to you, what does that reveal to you about God?”

And I’m on the Holy Mountain, so this struck me. Because I’ve seen beauty everywhere. And it is speaking to me.


Preacher Claire is going away now.

Funny Claire is back!

I made two friends yesterday! And both sort of by accident.

The first one came up to me before rehearsal and said to me (completely seriously), “you look young. I need young friends. You’re my new friend.” And the rest is history. We sit together for most rehearsals. We sit together for all of the lectures. She copies down my notes. She’s so goofy and totally fits my personality. And I love it so much. We’re a great pair.

The second one I met on my way to yoga.

(Yes, there is yoga on the Holy Mountain taught by a chorister/certified yogi)

We bonded over our love for music education and our guilty pleasure that is ghost hunting shows. We ate dinner together. We went to the evening concert together. And it was awesome. When I told her that I’ve been blogging every day since I’ve been up here, she laughed and said, “I can see it now. You’re going to talk about your new friend who is so tired she got slap happy, couldn’t stop talking in a southern accent and got tomato schmutz on her ‘I’m so tired’ shirt.” She’s even more awesome because of all of that.

She even told me she’d hike with me on Saturday (!!!!)

So stay tuned.

P.S. I’m still so sore from my hike on Sunday. So we’ll see how that go.

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