I do think about it sometimes, about what my work and life in music could be if I were not a Priest. Occasionally I ponder the Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday nights that would be open, the Sunday mornings that could be used for travel or practice, and lack of sudden and unanticipated schedule changes that are part and parcel of ministry. I do admit, at times, to a little bit of envy when I see people who have shows on Friday nights in Lent when I am helping to serve an Akathist, or on those feast days when I need to be in Church. I know, too, that my status as a Priest can make it harder for me to be the right “fit” in a group and “fit” is so important to make music together. I do think about things like that from time to time.
Usually, though, the “what ifs” don’t last too long. I’m a Priest before I’m a musician and not just a musician that shows up at church a lot. True, there are days when I would like to be out on stage with the boys but mostly I’m happy and content on what I consider to be, for lack of a better term, the greatest “stage” of all, the altar of any Orthodox church. I love music but I know that the eternal things are of greater value and duration. A hundred years from now no one will remember my music but what I can do to bless people as a Priest may last that long on this earth and perhaps, by God’s grace, for eternity in the world beyond this.
I do get to make music, of course, for myself and the experience that comes with sitting alone and pondering the world with an instrument in my hands (an experience I highly recommend for others), the good folks I serve at my senior residence, and every so often a public performance. I love to make music in groups (something that comes from years of playing the bass, a very group dependent instrument), but slowly but surely doors are also opening up for me as a solo performer and hopefully as a songwriter as well. I simply trust that if there is a divine plan for me that includes music the songs and situations will happen. That being said I know there is a divine plan for me as a Priest, even if its only to show the world that God has a sense of humor.
In the end I wouldn’t really want it any other way. Jesus is just too amazing, too important, and too wonderful to be anything but at the top of my priorities. Although I’m far from perfect I believe what He is, what He has to teach us, and what He offers to us is the most beautiful kind of music, healing, and life for the whole of who we are. If I try to have Him front and center everything else will find its proper place. While I play a number of instruments I, as best as a struggling human can do, want to be His harp.
In the end that’s what really matters.