Friday 22 July

Since 4 July it’s been a bit busy. I’d spent the previous week on vacation in Sanibel and then had a few days work punctuated by storms and three funerals.

The weekend of 9 July began with the Vigil Mass and the following day I was back for the Sunday Masses. I only had to play for the four morning Masses as my employers felt they should relieve me of the 7pm Mass so that I could pack for the National Pastoral Musicians Convention.

I was up super early on Monday 11 July to catch the 6am flight to Houston, Texas where the convention was occurring. I got to the Hilton Hotel soon after 8am and having registered I checked out the Hotel breakfast. I got access to my room around 10am and once settled I set out to join some of the pre-Convention events. I was able to attend a workshop with David Haas. The Opening ceremony was at 4pm and was a bit odd. It was clear that the theme was multicuturalism as various continents were represented by somewhat tokenistic displays all accompanied by pre-recorded music!

Later that evening the retail area was formally opened with the promised champagne evading me. I was so tired by this time that I was grateful for an ‘early’ bed.

Tuesday began with the hotel breakfast followed by the first Plenary address given by a New Orleans style priest who jived his way through the next hour finally alighting on a message in the last ten minutes. Having filled the hall with a guilty conscience over the slave-trade and abuse of those to become African-Americans he then challenged us not to sing Franciscan songs if we paid no attention to the poor, not to pray to Jesus if you cared not for justice etc. African-Americans sang songs which represented their integrity and their struggle and we should think about doing the same.

I can’t recall which sessions I attended precisely although I’m sure one concerned the use of screens in liturgy. In the evening I was heading out to listen to a concert of Durufle’s Requiem when I bumped into Paul Inwood and Kathy who invited me to join them at the GIA reception at the Grove. This was clearly a select gathering and there I was re-united after many years with Bob Hurd and Marty Haugen and also introduced to the President of GIA with whom I had conversations about publication earlier that day. the wine flowed and the food was wonderful and free. Back at the hotel i felt moved to buy a round and the world’s most expensive hotel bar.

Wednesday began with another plenary in which the speaker at one point said that she liked to start with prayer. I have no problem with that at all except that we were already 25 minutes into her lack-lustre plenary. Not much came of the minutes after the prayer either. During the day I had a few more chts with OCP and GIA and wrote to Stephen Dean to get ‘freed’ from his UK publishing house Decani Music. I attended a further talk on screens and a worshop with Marty Haugen and Bob Hurd.

Each day was full on as you tried to chase luminaries around the place seeking wisdom. I had hoped to attend a workshop on the new Marriage Rites but overheard the speaker saying to a friend that he had still not seen the rites themselves so I thought that was a bit rich and told him so in no uncertain manner … he could have checked on the UK site!

The next day I attended another talk on the Marriage Rites by a priest who had not seen the final rites but he was at least aware of the way they were going and he kept deferring to me for comment on the UK rites which I happened to have with me. The Plenry was given by Michael Joncas and at last we were being fed. It was a wonderful experience as this thoroughly prepared talk included some really mystical settings of a poem by George Herbery with music by Vaughan Williams.

In the evening I teamed up with Paul Inwood and Kathy and some other folk I did not know in an Italian restaurant.  I had a great conversation with one Lei Ray Yu and then Kathy realised that she was bleeding as a result of some glass shards which the staff had not cleared from the seating. As you might expect I was introduced to the manager and then the owner in my quest for some compensation. I’d have to say that they got off lightly!

Back at the Hotel I did a round of drinks for a growing number of people.

The final day began with breakfast and it was clear that so many had already left so by noon I retired to my room for some sleep before boarding a shuttle to the airport. I can spot trouble a mile off and this time it was in the form of a loud gentleman with an aggressive attitude. It was my poor fortune to sit in front of him on the plane as he introduced himself to those next to him but actually to the whole plane as his volume was able to achieve this. I could see folk getting ruffled so I turned to him and asked him to turn the volume down. He hasd been a drummer in a rock group and was probbaly deaf as a result, poor soul. He was quite mortified (I heard) as no one had asked him to be quiet since the age of six. When we touched down in Tampa I thanked him for his understanding and he looked at me astonished once again! I was home by 10:30pm and in bed very soon after.

My employers had paid for a cover musician for the first morning Mass and so I did not get into work until 8.30am. All went well but I was tired.

In the afternoon I stocked up the fridge and kitchen with supplies, rested an hour or so at the pool and then returned for the evening Mass.

I spent my day off on Monday at the beach and returned to work on Tuesday morning. A lightning strike the previous Friday had taken out the internet and phones so there was a limit to what we could do even though the phones had been restored.

The internet silence lasted until Friday midday so I spent the days forward planning and writing articles. I also had my first evaluation meeting which was successful, thank you very much. I had hoped to have a skype conversation with my brother Richard about his wedding Mass. In the event this didn’t happen so I prepared a draft for him to peruse as soon as the internet was restored and the document could be sent.

I spent most of Friday at the beach and the pool and ended up at Charann’s Bar. The heaven’s had opened with a vengeance briefly at 4pm and as I type it is after 8pm and the heavens have opened again with the same alacrity accompanied by lightning and thunder. I hope I can sleep eventually.

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