Dear First United Family,

Happy Monday to all of you! This is Samuel Grace, your Music Director, with some musings for the week ahead.

Last week was a tumultuous one for those of us working in vocal music. A webinar hosted by leading organizations in my field revealed a likely lengthy timeline in our return to making music together. My colleagues around the world responded in a number of ways: shock, anger, grief, and optimism. I feel like I experienced all of these feelings over several hours and days. Now that I have had time to process and accept the potential realities ahead, I am feeling much more grounded.

I, like many of you, have been impatient. I’ve allowed myself to be frustrated or angry about things I can’t control, and that is OK. We must all find healthy ways to express these feelings. This week, God has helped me re-frame my thoughts on the things that I can control, and for my relationship with music, that means not giving up. I will be working as long as it takes to provide a meaningful  musical experience for all of you and the people of this world because it is essential to our lives and because every fiber of my being must work toward creating music.

So how am I spending my time apart from you? I’ll spare you the mundane details about work and studying music and skip to the fun stuff. My favorite activity has been biking. I am out 2 or 3 times each week enjoying the fresh air and the thrill of powering my way around with my feet. My favorite rides are out to Lake Monroe or along the creek on Old 37. Bloomington has such a beautiful landscape AND HILLS to keep me in shape. I’m cooking nearly every day. My subscription with the New York Times cooking website has never been more useful, and Megan enjoys putting new requests in my virtual recipe box for me to make. I am not taking my extra time together with Megan and our dog, CJ, for granted. We’re spending a lot of time outside. We went to the Charles Deam Wilderness on Saturday, which was a lot of fun, but be warned: it’s super muddy right now! And yes, like many of us, we’ve enjoyed our fair share of TV and video games. We jumped aboard the Animal Crossing train early on and are having fun pretending we live on our virtual island (St. CJ) where we don’t have to socially distance.

This time apart is hard, but I am committed to helping create the most meaningful and musically fruitful online worship service possible. I welcome your ideas anytime. Likewise, if you would like to contribute to worship in some way, be it a musical offering, poetry reading, special talent, etc. please let us know. It is a blessing to share our gifts together, especially right now.

May God’s peace be with each and every one of you this week. See you on Sunday!

-Samuel Grace, Director of Music