A Jazz-Shaped Life

I have just returned from four months of sabbatical and am still adjusting to my re-entry to “normal” life.  Undoubtedly bits and pieces of these astoundingly rich four months will come more clearly into focus as I write about them in the coming weeks, but for today I want to turn any readers into listeners.  Actually, I guess I always want to do that.

It was a joyful privilege to be in the audience at my son’s graduation from the University of Vermont in May, where I was reminded in that most secular of places of the importance of ceremony and the place of music within ceremony.  They do ceremony well at UVM and it didn’t hurt that on the most beautiful day of the year a nearby apple tree – the tree of wisdom no less – chose that day to rain down its blossoms on the assembled.

The commencement speaker, jazz trumpeter Wynton Marsalis, looked into the faces of the 2013 graduates and urged them to see this, their graduation day, as not just a stepping stone to the rest of their lives, but asked they look around…”this isn’t something on the way to life.  This is life,” he said.  His speech moved on in the form of a jazz piece, each element of one’s life having a solo turn, before coming back to the original tune.  You’ll just have to watch it in order to understand what I’m saying.  And at the end… well, I have never been part of such a spontaneously heartfelt standing ovation in my life.  I could not have asked for a better start to my four months of sabbatical.  “This is life” rings in my ears every day.  Improvise, adapt, step back and listen to others, and then come together in unity around a great theme.


Sonya Sutton, Director of Music

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4 Responses to A Jazz-Shaped Life

  1. Susan Muncey says:

    It is great having you back! Looking forward to hearing more stories from your sabbatical experience. Congratulations to you & your husband on your son’s graduation! Thank you for sharing some of that very special day with us!

  2. Carlyle Gill says:

    I’m so glad you’re back. And I love the jazz piece. I get that from contemplative prayer. Cheers and love!

  3. Gville27@aol.com says:

    Welcome back, and love hearing about all of your experiences!

  4. So glad to have you home. This Cup is a perceptive first reflection on your sabbatical. We look forward to many more. Marsalis’ message puts me in mind of the best observations on life I ever received – from a Benedectine no less – that life is the journey, not the destination. We all know what awaits at the end of the journey of our lives, so don’t be in too big of a hurry to get to your destination. Treasure every part of the journey, and appreciate each phase of life for the blessings it brings. We all hope you enjoyed the past four months of your journey.

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