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Devotion: Cycles and Evolution

On Sunday, May 4, as we completed the cycle of our 28th season, NLC soprano Katherine Castille shared the following devotion with her fellow choir members.

“The world is round which means the place that seems like the end may be the beginning.” - Ivy Baker Priest

We’re coming to the end of NLC’s 28th season and it has me thinking about cycles and evolution. The cycles that bring order, or at least the illusion of order, to our lives. And evolution that keeps us moving forward, keeps us becoming.

            the cycle of the seasons: spring - summer - fall - winter - winter - winter - spring -   winter - and finally spring again

            the cycle of an NLC season - All Saints - Christmas - tour - spring concert

            the cycle of the church year

            the cycle of life, from birth to death

And though cycles end only to begin again, evolution ensures that no cycle is an absolute repetition. There IS a light no darkness can overcome, and yet no Christmas, no Easter is the same.

Evolution happens in big life events just as much as the slow changes that happen in the course of our every day choices. 

There are so many little births and little deaths between THE birth and THE death, and each one changes us. Though it’s easy for the days and years to run together, we’re never the same from one cycle’s end to the beginning of another.   

I hear people say that their years in NLC start to blend together in memory. Having been in the choir for eight years now, I can relate a little. But this year has had some truly unforgettable moments:

  •  For us as a choir - we were conducted by at least seven maestros: Craig Hella Johnson - Kathy Romey - Nancy - David - Shaun - Bob – Linda? - Chris Cherwien? - Mark Sedio?
  • Over a dozen of us were struck down by a ferocious and volatile stomach flu on tour and “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” has taken on an entirely different meaning.
  • Singing “What a Wonderful World” feet away from a crying lobby volunteer on tour.
  • More personally, relationships have begun, have ended, have been taken to the next level (evolved) and loved ones have passed away.
  • It’s been the first year Colleen and Mary Kay and Zack and Kenton and Megan and Abby and Julia and Hannah joined the NLC ranks.
  • And it will be the last year some of us sing together.

I like the symmetry of having our last concert this season in the same place as our first All Saints concert this year. Sarah Koepp’s devotion from that night has stayed with me all year. She was thinking about beginnings and endings - Christ as beginning and end - the bittersweetness that is required with all transitions in life ... because in order for a new beginning to take place, something else has to end.

            “We are so lightly here. It is in love that we are made, in love we disappear.”

One of the NLC traditions that has taken root in my heart is how we say goodbye at the end of the year - with Peter Lutkin’s “The Lord Bless You and Keep You.” I can safely say that I’ve never made it through without crying, which is not shocking since I’m kind of a cryer. 

But what I’ve come to realize over the years is that it doesn’t get to me more or less based on who is leaving or how many people are leaving. It gets to me because I realize in that moment, it’s the last time this exact group will sing together. We’ve been a part of this particular NLC cycle, and also a part of NLC’s evolution. We’ve become part of each other’s evolution in this NLC family. We’ve grown corn and oranges and friendship together. 

There is sadness in saying those goodbyes even knowing there will be the joy of welcoming new singers in the fall.  

So for a prayer, I’d like to read these words we’ll soon sing to honor the end of one cycle to make room for the beginning of another - please pray with me:

            The Lord bless you and keep you,

            the Lord lift His countenance upon you;

            and give you peace,

            the Lord make His face to shine upon you,

            and be gracious unto you.