This Sunday, we are hosting a virtual benefit concert that features an array of music and musicians. Our desire is to use our Concert Series format, as always, to turn our hearts and minds to the good, the true, and the beautiful. The upcoming concert has the added feature of being a benefit.
COVID-19 has changed, challenged, and in some cases, devastated us over these past several months. The virus took the life of our brother, Daniel Lee, and the loss is tremendous. The tribute I wrote to the Friends of Music on August 20, 2020 can be found at the bottom of this post.
Today, I'd like to focus on a broader aspect of this loss. To say that Daniel was an amazing architect is a massive understatement. You will see examples of his work opening the virtual concert. As I prepare for the concert, I came across this article, in which Daniel is interviewed by his friend, Duncan Stroik, architect, appointee to U. S. Commission for the Arts, and professor of architecture at University of Notre Dame. Take a moment to get to know the mind of a true artist, whose desire was to glorify and reflect God through his creative work.
I remember our friend and former associate pastor, Robbie Pruitt, often saying that "all art is plagiarism unless it references the Original Creator."
To create is to get a new perspective on the enormity and provision of God. He has created all things well. If you are an artist of any sort, think about the love with which you create, and desire to add beauty to the world. This effort and care tells us something about the closeness and care of our Heavenly Father. If you don't consider yourself to be artistic, consider that there are aesthetic aspects to everything; take a moment to make something in your environment special. This small effort, perhaps for something small, like a tiny corner, a plant, a small display, can bring your heart and thoughts to the degree with which our loving Creator has shown His love in His creation. Many hymns were written out of a sense of awe and wonder at the beauty of creation.
In these next few weeks, the CtK ministries will be supplying devotionals for home use. A small portion of this will be some optional "everyday piety" idea: something to make your home hospitable, or reflective of the heart of Christ in some way. I encourage you to take part in this initiative, and take time to meditate on the reaches of His love for us.
As many of you know, our dear friend, Daniel Lee, lost the battle against COVID-19 this week. As his faithful wife, Leonor, reported, "God answered our prayers and gave Daniel a COVID-free body... His fight with COVID-19 lasted one month from beginning of symptoms to his passing into glory. Give thanks to God with me that this ending was God's perfect plan and is for our good."
As Christians, we love fully out of the abundance of love first given to us by Christ. When we lose a loved one in this life, our grief is in proportion to that love. In His perfect provision, the Holy Spirit comforts and sustains us with the knowledge that this is not the end of the story; that God will wipe away every tear from our eyes, that there shall be no more death, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore (Rev. 21:4); and that the last enemy to be destroyed is death (1 Cor. 15:26). We are thankful that our dear brother is no longer suffering, and know that all of heaven is rejoicing to welcome this fine saint of the LORD.
I've known dear Leonor for many years now, after singing and accompanying alongside her, and sharing in a women's Bible study. Christ shines through her so beautifully and authentically that you feel you know her right away--you recognize that same Spirit as the one that is in you. I actually only had a couple interactions ever with Daniel, but they were life-changing.
I was in a difficult place, transitioning from one job to another, and feeling discouraged both personally and professionally. I knew Daniel by sight as Leonor's husband. He made a point to come talk to me at length, as though he knew my pain, and encouraged me to hang in there; to keep playing; that he believed I had something special to offer. I have to wipe my cheek thinking about how meaningful and timely this was. Daniel was a thoughtful, intellectual, and deeply spiritual man who was, in my experience, rather private; but when he spoke, he made it count.
On another occasion, at a gathering for the CtK choir, Daniel took time to publicly encourage me--a little fledgling in this job, making it up as I went along--and expressed his conviction that I had gifts worth sharing. From such a quiet man (as distinguished from my conversations of all sorts with Leonor: deep, fun, giggly, painful, prayerful, light, what have you), his words were dense and powerful. He made you want to listen. It meant the world to me.
On yet another occasion, Daniel and Leonor made the trek to a McNair Hall at Georgetown University to hear a doctoral lecture recital I was presenting entitled, "Direction in Music." About as geeky as it gets, only my very closest family members and friends braved the hilly and confusing campus to attend. Following the program, Daniel, Leonor and I talked, getting deep into the weeds of aesthetic principles and the "language" of art. We eventually decided we should continue the conversation; we never did.
At some point along the way, I became familiar with Daniel's work as an architect. I had always heard he was very good, but I could hardly pull my jaw off the floor when I saw his portfolio. A true artist indeed, with absolutely gorgeous and grand projects under his belt; and he took the time to make sure that I felt encouragement for my journey.
For those who know her, Leonor continues this family legacy at all times with her intimate love and dependence on God. She is a beautiful inspiration, and I wish somehow those who don't know Christ could learn how different grief can be when wrapped in God's love and among His people. I asked Leonor's permission to send my thoughts, and she agreed, adding:
"We must not stop praying for our hurting and dying world. We must be a people of prayer, pleading with the Lord for our world. Our fervent prayers must not stop."
Amen, and amen.
As I mentioned, Leonor herself is a consummate musician, and Daniel at the very least was a music enthusiast; the wonderful nurses in ICU made sure he had Barber's Adagio for Strings and Bach's Air on a G String Pandora stations playing for him around the clock. An idea for a concert began to germinate as to how we might honor this precious family.
This global pandemic has affected each of us in many respects, some of which are mere inconveniences, and others, life-changing and painful. Christ the King parish wants to serve as Christ's hands and feet to each other and to a hurting world. Forthcoming to members of CtK is a notice from our Vestry on how we can contribute practically to the significant needs among our congregation. On Sunday, September 13, 2020, at 5 p.m., we will host a virtual benefit concert to bolster these efforts. We will honor the health care workers in our parish; provide a special tribute to the life and memory of Daniel Lee; and provide a variety of music intended to encourage and uplift during this challenging season. The CtK Choir and Friends of Music Performers will provide sacred and secular music in an array of styles and settings, featuring music of Bach, Bizet, Dvorak, Faure, Handel, Puccini, Williams, original works and arrangements; as well as popular sacred and secular selections performed by vocal soloists, instrumentalists, and choir. Please join us for this special evening.