Thursday, November 14, 2013

Here I will stop and rest awhile

Today I have been restlessly poking away at a number of things that need doing. And it dawned on me: I haven’t had days like this in quite a while. Plenty to do, but nothing urgent; much undone, but no pressing deadlines; a world of new things to begin, but a little low on the energy to get started.

Today I realize that having now officially sent my thesis to my readers, my restlessness has to do with the removal of the elephant from the room. I have resisted “writing my thesis in public” through this blog. Writing is something I can and must do, and my thesis will almost certainly show up in these posts. Not serialized, but in bits and pieces as I reflect on various aspects of my study, and as I explore some of the tangents I’ve had to ignore in order to finish the business at hand.

Imagine my surprise during this ennui to find that exactly six months ago today, I began to write my thesis. It was the single step of a journey. Today I find myself far down that road. I have stopped at oases along the way. I’ve had to turn back a couple of times. I may have fallen asleep in a field of poppies once or twice. But today I am waiting at the city gates. I’ve sent word to the man behind the curtain. Will I gain entry?

Six months of writing, editing, listening, talking, questioning, and doubting – now behind me. Ahead of me: the anxious waiting for my readers’ responses; the unknown work that will certainly the follow those responses; the challenge of re-working material for use in other settings and formats.

But for now, with the weak November sun shining in a quiet and lovely house, I am quietly if restlessly celebrating an arrival. It’s not the end of the journey, but it’s a good resting place. My first day of writing produced 80 words. I promised not to write this thing in public. But since today brings some closure, and with the tidy symmetry of exactly 6 months, here I offer the final 80 words I wrote.

. . . I have attempted to answer that question with reference to just one cantata. I believe that by bringing together an introduction to Pietism and current musicological perspectives on Bach, I have laid some groundwork for the study of other pietistic cantatas. Beyond that I hope to recast discussions about what music is accomplishing in Christian worship, and to demonstrate that the music we write and select for worship shapes a congregation’s theological understanding of the texts we sing and hear.

Oh, and for the record: those first 80 words did remain, nearly intact, as the opening of my first chapter!

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