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A blog dedicated to the Source of everything good.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Three taps of the gavel

For nine weeks each summer, western New York's Chautauqua Institution offers residents and visitors a host of events related to the arts, religion, and current issues, as well as recreation on the shores of Lake Chautauqua. Billing itself as a center for lifelong learning, Chautauqua brings in national-level speakers and offers world-class artistic productions by such groups as the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra, with which my husband and I are privileged to perform.

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 :-)



  • I haven't been reading your blog very long -- only since we met at last year's GodBlog Conference, I think. But I've enjoyed hearing the insights God has given to you and seeing the beauty of His creation through the lens of your camera. Thanks for sharing Chautauqua, and sharing yourself, Bonnie. May the Lord Jesus continue to richly bless you.


    By Blogger Charlie, at 1:39 AM  

  • Indeed. Till we meet again.

    By Blogger Martin LaBar, at 4:35 AM  

  • Sorry to see you close this one down, Bonnie, but I can certainly understand.

    I think you'll enjoy photo-blogging (I know I do!).

    By Anonymous Rusty Lopez, at 4:58 PM  

  • Thank you, gentlemen. Thanks for your faithful readership, and your friendship.

    By Blogger Bonnie, at 10:34 PM  

  • Bonnie,
    I'm sorry to see you go. I've appreciated your photos. Maybe you can post some to Intellectuelle.
    You are rich, to be able to take part in the life of Chautauqua each year. My family traveled there once summer when I was a child.
    I know what you mean, about your priorities and guarding your time. It's tough.

    By Blogger Julana, at 7:12 PM  

  • Thanks, Julana, I appreciate your words. Thanks for the encouragement to post photos at ‘elle.

    If you should come this way again, or come to Chautauqua, please look us up! It would be great to meet you.

    By Blogger Bonnie, at 9:51 PM  

  • Best of luck Bonnie; may you continue to be a blessing to others whatever, wherever, and whenever, you do next.

    By Blogger David M. Smith, at 8:30 PM  

  • Greetings,
    I was looking for the words and music to the hymn God Be With You til We Meet Again, and your site came up.

    My mother had been a Chatauqua camper in her teens (circa 1923-1928)- and spoke so lovingly of this place and experiences shared there. Reading about the spiritual openness embraced there, I was so reminded of her worshipful sense, love of music, preference for the out of doors.

    Reading about this spiritual center - just by chance - has helped to enlarge my understanding of the breezes and springs that helped to shape the beautiful, caring person she was.

    Thank you.
    Greensboro, NC

    By Anonymous Janmusicwriter, at 12:47 PM  

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    Thank you,

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