Monthly archives "December 2018"

TAO January 2019–The Fellowship of the Pipes

The Fellowship of the Pipes

On the way to the Kansas City national convention last summer, my wife and I stopped at the home of Mark and Carol Virkler for a short visit. We are new friends, getting to know each other on their trips to San Diego after I hired their daughter as my associate director of music. Mark is a retired University of Missouri professor, and Carol is completing her 40th year as organist of their church. You could not ask for more gracious hospitality. Quick with a smile and an extra dessert, they made us feel right at home, proudly showing us their town, their campus, and their church.
Friendship solidified as we spent time in their Columbia, Missouri home. We learned just how active the Carol is at their church. Not only is she the organist, she is also active in her women’s group, has served several terms as a member of the church board, ultimately rising to “Clerk of Session” ––and, recently, she became director of music. And that’s not all––the Virklers have also sponsored several refugee families, keeping in touch with all of them.
Dreams of retirement were on her mind. She worried about who would take over the console when she steps down. Her hopes were raised when she discovered that a new choir member plays the piano and that she had been watching her for some time, wondering if she could ever have a chance to try the organ out. Carol invited her to try it out. She loved it! “I have so much I want to show her,” enthused Carol.
Our visit with the Virklers ended all too soon, but I left with several gifts that have only recently revealed themselves to me, and in the spirit of Epiphany and the Three Kings, I want to share them with you.
The first gift is that of Guild fellowship. Getting acquainted was easy, because Carol and I had so much in common. We shared stories of life in our respective chapters, a common vision, similar values, and an eagerness to share resources. We love the organ and its music. We like learning more about what makes them work, and more about its history. We seek to better ourselves as performers, and we like meeting experts, so we can learn from them. These commonalities made it easy for us become friends who share stories and concerns, as well as accomplishments. How wonderful to offer each other support for the challenges we face. The Guild’s “Fellowship of the Pipes” strengthens us for the journeys we are on. Friendship and hospitality is a gift for all of us to enjoy.
It is easy to see that Carol’s church activities far exceed the expectations of her employment. If you asked her, she would say that she’s doing what comes naturally. She has found her gifts and is sharing them. Best-selling author, Steven R. Covey, would say that she has grown into a highly effective person by living her life “from the inside-out.” Artists are people discovering their unique gifts and seeking ways to bring them forth for the good of all. Covey would urge all of us to find our voices and to use them. “There is a deep, innate, almost inexpressible yearning within each one of us to find our voice in life,” he writes. Music is our voice––the voice that gives expression to that which abides unseen within us. Our voice brings fresh spiritual energy into the world. Touching on music’s deep wells lies at the center of the artist’s inside-out life-style.
Carol’s musical energy spills over into the many other things she does in her life. Enthusiasm is one of Covey’s indicators for authentic voice: inspiring others and using it to develop a vision of great things they want to accomplish. Encouraging others is another sign of the spillover effect–– a natural outcome of the artist’s process. It was exciting to hear of Carol’s surprise in finding someone right before her eyes who was interested in playing the organ, and even more so to witness her eagerness to help this neophyte to develop her skills and to find her voice.
All of us together form The Fellowship of the Pipes, where we can find our place in a community shared interests, a place where we can find our voice, a place where we can shape the future by encouraging those who will follow us.
Ultimately, inspiring others will be the legacy we leave behind us. Those we have influenced will be the best evidence of our own accomplishments. We have a rich legacy to share. Look around you to see who is waiting to join the Fellowship of the Pipes. Someone is waiting for your invitation. Happy New Year!