I really dislike slow traffic . I don’t mean the sort of mild dislike that you shrug off and consider to be a cost of living in a major metropolitan area that is in a state of denial about being a major metropolitan area, although that is certainly true. What I mean is that I feel a sense of existential horror at feeling stuck on roads with people who seem to have no idea what they are doing and who seem to actively enjoy being in my way. It is not that I abhor traffic itself, but I abhor what it means, namely the fact that I live in a world where my progress towards where I want to go is slow, and frequently barely in evidence, something which fills me with almost unspeakable dread and horror. That doesn’t mean that I don’t try to speak about it often, but rather that the core of what troubles me and bothers me about it is not something that is easily understood by those who do not know the intense frustration in which I live my life. Perhaps I expect too much of myself, but if I am not an entirely rational person in how I am put together, how should my frustration be any less rational than the rest of me?
As I was reading and getting ready for today, I chatted online at some length with one of my friends in Brazil. I met this young lady, who is a pre-law student looking to go to law school in the United States and also working on baptism counseling with our Portuguese-speaking minister who travels at least occasionally to her area, while I was at a particularly disastrous Feast of Tabernacles in South America. At the time, I think she was about twelve years of age, and made it a point to be friendly as it was fairly obvious to everyone around that I was not having a particularly enjoyable time of myself. Our conversation spent a great deal of time wrestling with the subject of loneliness. As the only young woman of the faith anywhere remotely close to her, she feels very isolated and longs for the comfort of a larger congregation. I felt it necessary, though, to remind her that believers often feel lonely even with big congregations, even when they are involved in many activities and are friendly and sociable, simply because they spend so much time trapped in their own head and filled with longings that simply are not met. People feel lonely in being single, lonely in being married to people where there is often little communication, lonely in families where they feel taken for granted and unappreciated, and on it goes. I happen to think this young woman is a wonderful person, and I hope she can live a life where she doesn’t feel lonely, but I wish for the same for myself as well.
When I finally arrived at services after my first bout of bad traffic (there would be three during the course of the day), I chatted with a few people, picked up some music that I hope to sing in an AAT trio when my mum is in town, and picked my customary lonely seat in the front row of our church hall. The messages today were from the General Conference of Elders, and before I talk about them I think it would be important to recognize that the ABC chorale did a fantastic job, and I plan on congratulating at least some of the people who were a part of it personally. Anyway, that said, the messages themselves were quite intriguing and thought-provoking. If I did not have the same sort of emotional reaction to them that I have had in years past , there was still at least something to think about. The first message was a job description of what Mr. Kubik considered to be the ideal employee for the United Church of God, in giving a description of Timothy. Timothy came from a family of believers going back two generations, had a strong knowledge of God’s word, was a reliable and responsible person capable of being sent in any number of places to troubleshoot and help resolve difficulties, and had some notable struggles with chronic health difficulties and a certain amount of diffidence and timidity. Mr. Kubik said that if someone met the profile of Timothy there is a job waiting for him right now. If he would be kind enough to contact me, I have someone in mind. The second message gave brief but biblical answers to some of the most important questions of life, and went into the several messengers revealed in the book of Malachi, something that I find to be particularly interesting and a question that may be worth exploring in a blog entry of its own sometime soon in greater detail.
After services I had to rush off immediately for two practices. I had calculated the time before I needed to be in Salem and figured I had the time to do both the a capella and the regular choir practice. I had informed our choir director of this before services, and she seemed a bit surprised that I had the time to stick around, but I did, even with the bad traffic on the way to Salem after the practices. The practices themselves went well. In a capella practice we worked on a song we had done a while ago to see how well we knew it for our performance in three weeks, and we knew it fairly well. In the regular choir practice we got a piece for Pentecost, and the piece was fairly easy. Since I won’t be at practice next week on account of being at the coast with my adopted family, I wanted to make sure I got the music to allow myself to practice on my own as much as I need to. The fact that I have three performances of special music, one song leading, and one sermonette (along with a sermon-length Bible study I have prepared for next week) just means I have a lot to do, I suppose.
After making the drive from Portland to Salem, it was time to enjoy some food, which was tasty, as well as pleasant company mostly from Salem, and then practice with the combined choir there. There were many altos and sopranos there, but only a handful of gentlemen for both parts, including myself, if I may be so bold as to call myself a gentleman. The practice went well and I feel I have a pretty good grasp of the piece. I may be back in Salem for the practice on 6/3 if there is nothing else I have scheduled of particular urgency, but at this point I think I would be alright even just coming the day of the performance and practicing on my own, if necessary. On the way back, after running into bad traffic in Wilsonville, I decided to leave the highway behind and drive through the country. Even though I probably didn’t save any time, it was much more enjoyable to drive through the woods and through the small towns of the area until I got home than to be stuck in slow traffic. Is there a lesson in this somewhere?
 See, for example:
 See, for example: