Miracle is perhaps too strong a word for what happened to me during the final preparations for the music ministry at the Holy Thursday liturgy. A sacred and powerful descriptor, miracle, I think, belongs to the realm of unexplained and sudden healing, survival against all odds, or bizarre confluences of events well beyond even the extraordinary. I could call last night’s events an intervention, a metaphysical helping hand. Maybe they are just a good story. How about if you weigh in?
I arrive at the church at 7:15 p.m. for the 8 pm liturgy. You would think, with music stands already set up and the program photocopied and accessible on the piano ledge, that a forty-five minute lead time would suffice.
I go through my normal routine—click the power on for the big screen and the projector, and press the button that lowers the screen. Next, I turn the power on the mixer nestled into the podium in the music area at the front of the church, and then head into the sacristy to load up on my materials—computer, cord, remote, dongle, hymn numbers, microphones. Still taking my time, I plug in the computer, and press the power button. Then, I turn away to retrieve my jump drive containing the Power Point with the words to the hymns and responses for the evening’s liturgy.
Glancing back slightly toward the computer, I notice a blue screen. That is never good. The computer refused to start, the screen tells me before it switches to black and Windows asks if I want to try to start using the safe mode. Okay, no sweat, I still have forty minutes.
Then, another decision. Do I want to repair the problem? Well, last time this happened, I clicked cancel and lived to regret it for that liturgy, so, once burned, twice shy, I click Okay this time. A blue band begins its loop, and the computer informs me that the repair might take several minutes. Well, define several.
Now it’s 7:30. No panic yet, I have things I can do—put the music in order, distribute the microphones, make sure everyone has a program. In the meantime, the musicians and the singers arrive, and begin their set up. The blue band is still looping. For the first time, I acknowledge the real chance that the computer might not be running by 8 pm. No big deal, really, unless you count the hour I invested getting the PPT ready. We are dependent on the screen for the words to the opening hymn, however, so, I pick a different hymn for Plan B, and retrieve the books I need.
My husband offers to run home for my Mac. I’m skeptical. I doubt the dongle will work, because the wireless connections aren’t established, and I won’t have time to fiddle with that. However, he insists, and returns a few minutes later with the Mac. 7:45 p.m. Call me prophetic. We try the Mac and when I insert the dongle, I don’t get the wonderful ta-TA perfect 5th that tells me there’s a connection. Well, that’s that, we’ll just carry on.
I glance back at the parish computer still repairing, and, to my surprise, at 7:50, the blue band has stopped looping! I click Next, and see a 9-option matrix, in white and red characters on a black background Okay. Scanning through, I hover over the one that says, Reset your computer to the setting of a selected date. Sounds good—let’s do it. I press okay.
I wait, and then, . . . the Microsoft Windows icon opens before me like a flower in time-lapse photography, all the colours glowing and spreading in an array whose radiance almost matches my smile. Then, I get the reassuring loading melody!! Followed by the password screen!
Now, it’s 7:55. Everything is slower for some reason, as the computer seems to be resetting. I insert the jump drive, transfer the file to the Liturgy folder on the desktop, and load it up. I see that the procession has lined up at the back of the church, candles lit, expectant look in the eyes of the ministers and the presider. I turn on the projector, and a few seconds later, hear its comforting hum.
I sit down at the piano, set the Plan B accompaniment book down and pull up the music for Plan A, put on my piano glasses (ah, getting old!), check to see if the musicians and singers are ready to go, and breathe a few times to center myself.
I pick up the microphone, and address the congregation. “Good evening, everyone. Welcome to the Holy Thursday liturgy. We are ready to begin, after our technical glitch . . .”
Miraculous? Or an intervention, it being in the Lord’s best interest to come through? Or a lucky coincidence, where events that had Detour written all over them came together just in the nick of time?
How would you see it?