Three taps of the gavel
My husband has enjoyed Chautauqua since childhood, and I have come to know and appreciate Chautauqua through him and 20+ years of visits.
Though the hectic symphony season doesn't allow us much relaxation. But we find opportunity to recreate with symphony colleagues and occasionally enjoy other features of Chautauqua. Sometimes we stay on the grounds rather than commute, which adds a much-welcomed dimension to our Chautauqua experience.
Another integral component of Chautauqua is its religion program. Unfortunately, it is broad and ecumenical to the point of actually discriminating against the evangelical Christian perspective. In spite of that, there is much to appreciate about the seriousness of intellectual and spiritual inquiry at Chautauqua. There are many opportunities for worship including daily morning worship services and weekly Sunday evening sacred song services.
The season is opened each year by three taps of a gavel. These are given by the president of the Institution during the first Sunday morning worship service. At the end of the final sacred song service, the gavel is tapped three times more to close the season. These ceremonial “three taps” have been occurring each year since the first Chautauqua season opened, 133 years ago.
This year's closing service was beautiful, austere, and bittersweet (at least the latter portion was; I arrived late). White pillar candles spread across center-front stage of the outdoor ampitheater – the same stage upon which symphony concerts, ballet performances, morning and evening worship services, afternoon lectures, and special-event concerts (acts brought in, such as Kenny Rogers, Mark Russell, and the Beach Boys) take place -- and attendees were invited to take them away after the service as a memorial of the season.
As my family and I walked back to our apartment with our candles, we reflected upon experiences of the summer and of Chautauqua. That was four days ago. I've since spent some time reflecting personally upon where I’ve been and where I’m going, these events having served as a catalyst. Summer’s end signals the end of my year. The cusp of August into September begins a new year; that’s when my husband transitions to his public-school and university-teaching jobs and I transition to homeschooling and community activity. We both return to a different phase of life from our musical performance-oriented and otherwise different summer.
Based on my reflections, I resolve to do the following this “new year”:
1) Reorient my priorities
2) Streamline family activities
3) Enforce proper limits upon my time and energy as given to various endeavors
I am grateful to those friends and family who have helped me find my way through various challenges this summer. Their reminders have given me new impetus to do the following:
1) Take care of myself
2) Honor those who know, depend upon, and love me the most
Therefore, I tap the metaphorical gavel three times and...close this blog. My prayer is that those who have read it may find a “candle” here to take with them; something meaningful that will bless their lives. I am grateful to those who have participated in the chautauqua that this blog has been; you have blessed me beyond what I can tell you.
I do hope to start a new project to take the place of this blog. But it will not happen as I had originally planned. I will announce here when it launches, though*.
Meanwhile, I will still be writing at Intellectuelle, and reading and commenting elsewhere. I hope to “see” you there.
As the gavel tapped, the final Chautauqua service concluded with quiet singing:
God be with you ‘til we meet again;
by His counsels guide, uphold you,
with His sheep securely fold you;
God be with you ‘til we meet again.
‘Til we meet, ‘til we meet, ‘til we meet at Jesus’ feet,
‘til we meet, ‘til we meet,’
God be with you ‘til we meet again!
*hint: it will be a photo-blog :-)