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Sunday, February 21, 2010

Pragmatism

(En español más abajo)
 
CanadaFor the second time in two years, my church is going through the painful process of having to deal with the abrupt and conflicting resignation of our Director of Music. Even more, both departures were pretty much at the same time of the year (mid-January), leaving the choir to deal not only with the loss, but also with the uncertainty of what will happen to us in the short term.

Interestingly, and while we’re figuring out what to do (should we start looking for a replacement right away or should we wait to see if the plans of amalgamation with another church are viable first?), we got the help of the same person who came to the rescue two years ago and acted as our interim organist. His name is Ken Seiling, and whenever he’s not playing the organ or conducting the choir, he’s quite busy as the CEO of the Region of Waterloo, a position he has held for 25 years now (only in Canada you get to see one of the most high-profile politicians in the province play organ at a church too).

As much as I appreciated the departing director, both personally and as a very gifted musician, my extreme pragmatism allowed me to move on almost instantaneously. After all, to me it was just about somebody who had quit his job, something I often see at the office. In spite of the fact that our director left abruptly and as we were getting ready for a concert, I just adapted and started to plan ahead. My line of thinking is always the same: if I could leave my family and friends behind and go to another country, then I can definitely get past the fact that somebody is not working with me anymore, even if it is somebody I appreciated.

But not everybody feels the same, and it is not easy for me to remember that. Our church choir is unbelievable, there are people in there who have been singing for more than 20, 30 or even 40 years! There's a picture of the choir from (I think) the late 60's in the church's library, and I'd say that half of those individuals are currently singing with me... The choir, and the church, are very important in these people's lives, and it's expectable that they are far more affected by this situation than I am.

In the meantime, and while everybody heals, we're trying to ensure the continuity of our Music Ministry, something our church is very well known for. Luckily for us, Mr. Seiling has agreed to serve as organist and interim Director of Music Ministry, while one of the members of our choir, who has belonged to the church since she was born and is without a doubt the best soprano I have ever sung with, Jennifer, will act as the interim Director of Intergenerational Music, which means she will take care of the kids, something they will greatly benefit from. Even more, whenever Ken Seiling is not available for whatever reason, Jen will be our conductor as well. I couldn't think of a better solution, she's extraordinarily talented. I will be working with both Jen and Ken closely in the next few months, as I'm becoming one of the chairs of the Worship committee. It's going to be fun, I'm sure!

I'm very involved with what's going on at my church, as you can see. I still find very interesting how they operate here in Canada, it's such a big difference from the little I know from my home country. My involvement is my way to give something back; this church welcomed me and then my wife and kids and treated us like family since Day 1.

Pretty much like this country did.

 
Argentina
Por segunda vez en dos años, mi iglesia está pasando por el penoso proceso de tener que lidiar con la salida abrupta y conflictiva de nuestro director de Música. Más aún, ambas renuncias ocurrieron exactamente en el mismo momento del año (mitad de Enero), dejando al coro en una situación muy precario, no sólo lidiando con la pérdida sino que también con la incertidumbre de cómo seguir en el corto plazo.

Lo interesante del tema, y mientras tratamos de dilucidar qué hacer (empezamos a buscar un reemplazo enseguida o esperamos a ver qué pasa con los planes de amalgamiento con otra iglesia primero?), es que contamos con la ayuda de la misma persona que nos ‘rescató’ hace dos años y actuó como nuestro organista temporario. Su nombre es Ken Seiling, y cuando no está tocando el órgano o dirigiendo el coro, está bastante ocupado con su ‘trabajito’ de CEO de la Región de Waterloo, un cargo que lleva ejerciendo –y por el que ha sido re-elegido muchas veces– por más de 25 años (sólo en Canadá uno tiene a uno de los políticos más encumbrados de la provincia tocando el órgano en una iglesia los domingos!).

Por mucho que apreciaba al director renunciante, como persona y como el excelente músico que es, mi pragmatismo extremo me llevó a adaptarme a la situación de manera casi instantánea. Después de todo, en el fondo esto era sólo una persona que había renunciado a su trabajo, algo que veo a diario en la oficina. A pesar de que nuestro director se fue abruptamente y justo cuando estábamos por dar un concierto, yo simplemente di vuelta la página y comencé a planear lo que viene. Siempre tengo la misma línea de pensamiento: si fui capaz de dejar a mi familia y mis amigos, a mis raíces detrás cuando me fui a otro país, definitivamente puedo superar el trance de ver que alguien no trabaja más conmigo, aunque sea alguien a quien aprecio.

 Singing with my really good friends David and Joyce. We consider both of them –and their spouses– as family
Cantando con mis muy buenos amigos David y Joyce. Tanto ellos como sus cónyuges son como de la familia para nosotros 

Pero no todos sienten igual, y es difícil para mi recordarlo. Nuestro coro es increíble, tenemos gente que ha estado cantando por 20, 30 y hasta más de cuarenta años! Hay una foto en la biblioteca de la iglesia que muestra al coro a fines de los ‘60 (creo), y diría que la mitad de los integrantes que aparecen allí aún cantan conmigo hoy… El coro, y la iglesia, son obviamente muy importantes en la vida de esta gente, y uno puede esperar que todo lo que sucede los afecte mucho más que lo que me afecta a mí.

Mientras tanto, y mientras aguardamos que sanen las heridas, estamos tratando de asegurar la continuidad de nuestro Ministerio de Múscia, algo por lo que nuestra iglesia es muy conocida. Por suerte, el señor Seiling aceptó continuar como organista y Director Musical interino, mientras una de las integrantes del coro, miembro de nuestra iglesia desde que nació y sin dudas la mejor soprano con quien yo he cantado en mi vida, Jennifer, actuará como Directora Interina de Música Intergeneracional, lo que significa que se va a ocupar de los chicos, algo que a ellos los va a beneficiar enormemente. Más aún, cuando sea que Ken Seiling no esté disponible para un servicio, Jen se ocupará de dirigir al coro. No podría pensar en una mejor solución, porque ella es extraordinariamente talentosa. Yo voy a trabajar codo a codo con Jen y Ken en los próximos meses, ya que seré uno de los qué esté a cargo del Comité de Culto (la mejor traducción que se me ocurre para ‘Worship Committee’). Va a ser interesante!

Como verán, estoy muy involucrado con lo que ocurre en mi iglesia. Todavía me parece muy interesante ver cómo funcionan en Canadá, ya que es muy distinto de lo poco que yo conozco de mi país natal. Lo mío es una forma de retribuír; esta iglesia me dio la bienvenida a mí, y luego a mi esposa e hijos, y nos trató como si fuéramos de la familia desde el primer día.

Como lo hizo también este país.

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4 comments:

  1. When I was a kid my family was very involved in the church. My Dad was the lay minister, my aunts uncles, grandma, were all part of the choir..
    In our small town, the church was a very big part of our lives, so I know where you are coming from.
    Ken Seilings wife used to be my gym teacher at W.O. Small world :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hey Gabriel, I think you said it perfectly and really lined up the true fact of the matter. Working for a church is like any other job.

    Church is portrayed as a culture that is to be respected and admired. Truthfully, everyone who works for the church may be receiving some spiritual nurturing, but are there for the paycheck to survive in today's culture.

    It's like any business and not everyone will ever get along with each other.

    The only thing that I do see that is wrong for sure... Is if someone did something wrong, and it was found to be intentional... don't cover it up with a bible verse or a story from the bible. Be accountable and responsible, after all, that's what would happen in business and today's culture.

    Hope you are doing great!

    Michael

    ReplyDelete
  3. Michael, thanks for commenting here! I'm doing very well, and I hope you're too.

    I hope you find what I wrote respectful and my appreciation for Dan and his notable contribution to our Music program is noticed. My English is good, but very simple, so sometimes I sound harsher than what I really mean to be.

    That being said, I think that this 'divorce', as traumatic as it was, was the best solution for Trinity and especially for Daniel. I would be lying if I said that I was OK with the way and/or the timing, but this is not about me. "Your health, your family, your job" is something we say around here a lot, so I believe that Daniel made the right choice.

    There are still some open wounds to take care of, and we're working on that. Lots of comments and assumptions are being made on both sides of this issue, but I find myself as pretty much the only one who is willing to speak his mind in front of anybody (and I have already, several times). Depending on who I talk to, I'm either praised or loathed (or misquoted, but I don't care). I mentioned the words 'accountability', 'responsibility' and 'communication' several times already.

    I'm still trying to figure out why people who have such passionate views about this and other subjects won't sit down and discuss them, but we're Canadian and we're famous for making a living off avoiding conflicts. :-)

    In fact, this behaviour has me so intrigued that is the subject of an upcoming post!

    Again, thanks for commenting here, you're always welcome to drop by and share your thoughts. Please send my regards to Dan, I still think he's an incredibly talented musician and it was a pleasure working with him.

    Take care, my friend.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hablando de coros, he sobrevivido a varios directores. No porque sean malos, ni nada por el estilo, si no porque la relación entre director y coreuta se hace muy estrecha con el correr del tiempo.
    Y eso suena lógico, ya que cuando uno integra un coro, lo hace por el supremo placer de cantar, y cuando uno hace las cosas por placer, se entrega.
    Lamentablemente, la vida tiene sus cosas y esas hacen que alguna vez un director deba dejar su cargo. Y así queda un coro a la deriva.
    Si, después llega un reemplazo, pero no es lo mismo.
    Es volver a empezar todo de nuevo.
    Pero, mientras tanto, siempre queda el placer de cantar.

    ReplyDelete

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