Last week I wrote about the “Great Expectations” I had for the week. Just as I expected, all 7 of them were met. It was a great week. But there was something more. There was a big surprise.

“Organ for Eight” CD cover

As I was scanning through Facebook on Tuesday, I came across an announcement for a concert called “Organ For Eight! (4 hands + 4 feet).” Being an organist myself, I tried to imagine what it would be like to share 2 or 3 keyboards, a pedal board, and stops all around the console with another person – and not either kick or elbow my fellow musician.  The Facebook announcement quoted the organists as saying, “The complexity of intertwining hands and feet and shifting organ registrations is akin to the game of Twister on a bench and three keyboards.”

That’s something I wanted to see – and hear. The concert was going to include a “Patriotic Medley,” “76 Trombones,” “Champagne Rag,” and “Bach for the 4th of July” – not the usual organ repertoire.

The concert was scheduled for Wednesday evening (July 4th) at the chapel of Sinsinawa Mound, the motherhouse for the Sinsinawa Dominican Sisters, in southwestern Wisconsin, about a 2-hour drive from Cambridge. Thanks to our very gracious and flexible friends, Mim and I managed to quickly rearrange our commitments for the next day and we went to the concert with one of our friends joining us.

Fifteen minutes into the concert I realized that my facial muscles were getting a vigorous workout from holding my mouth in a huge continuous smile. I couldn’t help myself. The music was too delightful to not smile. The only relief for my smile muscles came when we sang the songs for each of the armed forces, accompanied by the booming “Organ for Eight!”

What a wonderful surprise for the week!

Early this morning, as Mim and I were walking Abbey, we were talking about our plans and “great expectations” for this week. We were walking down Highland, just past Whispering Winds, and Mim stopped and said, “I just love these beautiful blue wildflowers. The color is so brilliant. And there are so many of them this year.” I took out my phone so I could take a picture to share their beauty with you.

I guess being on the lookout for God’s beauty all around us is one way to be sure we have plenty of “wonderful surprises” this week along with our “great expectations.”

God’s surprises!

10 responses to “The EXPECTED and the SURPRISES”

  1. Love Sinsinawa. I was happy to recently learn these flowers are called wild blue chicory.

    1. My mom used to call the flowers “wild bachelor buttons” but I have another friend who calls them “chicory,” too. To me, they’re just beautiful blue wild flowers, and I love them. This year the roadsides around here are just filled with them, mixed with queen anne’s lace – another beautiful flower.

  2. Mardelle Burrowes Avatar
    Mardelle Burrowes

    I love the surprises in God’s gardens! Those really are a beautiful blue.

    1. I like the phrase “God’s garden!” Thanks for sharing it.

  3. Cathy Thiltgen Avatar
    Cathy Thiltgen

    Going to the concert at Sinsinawa Mound really does sound like it was wonderful for you. I’m glad you had the chance to go. Very cool!

    When that facility was being constructed back in the 1960s, my dad, who was a carpenter, happened to be one of the many workers who helped to build it. I remember as a young girl visiting the place when it was in the middle of construction and walking around the grounds. At the time, all I saw was huge piles of dirt, half-built walls going up in many directions and mounds of building materials spread out and lying all over the ground. I could not imagine at that age in those circumstances what the end result would look like.

    But the person who designed it obviously had a different perspective than me. The designer’s vision of the building ended in a beautiful, functional, and inspirational building. And, even though over the years it probably has lost some of its unique characteristics simply by aging and getting somewhat outdated, it remains special, I think.

    Because I grew up in Galena, only twenty or so miles away, I heard the name “Sinsinawa” often. But, I didn’t pay much attention to any of those conversations as a child. I think I came to appreciate its special quality more after living away from the area for almost forty years now.

    The retreats have always interested me, and yet, I have not had the opportunity to participate in any. The other events they have throughout the year also have created a curiosity in me but, again, I haven’t attended. Some of my family who lives in that area have attended some though. And, they have bought some of the bakery items that the nuns make. When I visit family members in Galena I get the chance to eat some of those items and everything is absolutely delicious!

    Concerts, retreats, special events, baked goods – these are just some of the special things at Sinsinawa. But, perhaps the most important – and special – thing at Sinsinawa are the nuns themselves. Decade after decade they have managed to maintain and keep the facility running. They have provided an inspirational center not only for themselves but for others to enjoy as well.

    I’m glad you were able to enjoy the music there last week and I’m happy that you were blessed with another surprise this week in seeing the blue wildflowers. They are beautiful. Thanks for sharing the photograph.

    1. Your dad did a wonderful job! The chapel at Sinsinawa is beautiful, functional, and unlike any other chapel I’ve been in. It’s round and the outer walls contain a series of beautiful stained glass windows. Inside, the circle is divided in half, with an aisle down the middle, and pews in rows on either side of the aisle, all facing the aisle. The organ is in the balcony above the entrance to the chapel Everyone seated in the pews had a good view of the organ by looking up and either to the left or right, depending on which side of the aisle they were seated.

      I first heard about Sinsinawa when we lived in Chicago and Mim worked for The Night Ministry. One of her coworkers was a Sinsinawa Dominican Sister. Because of that friendship, we’ve been to Sinsinawa several times, including for a weekend a few years ago to celebrate our friend’s Silver Jubilee.

      I really enjoy going there. The setting is both awe-inspiring and peaceful. The overall atmosphere of the place is loving. And, you’re right, the baked goods in their gift shop are delicious.

      Mim and I enjoyed going to Sinsinawa so much last week that we’re talking about possibly trying to go to another one of their Wednesday Organ Concert Series this summer. FYI, here’s a link to their events

  4. Love the Sinsinawa Dominicans! I graduated from Rosary College In River Forest (now Dominican University) in 1970.

    1. I share your appreciation of the Sinsinawa Dominicans. I think I’ve been to the Mound only 3 times so far, but I’ve always been impressed with their kind hospitality. I’ve also been impressed with all the Dominican sisters I’ve met. A couple years ago a retired professor from Dominican University (I think), Sr. Jeanne Crapo, led a wonderful retreat at Whispering Winds for a Madison area Catholic church. She was a delightful woman and taught us all to have a much greater appreciation of poetry.

  5. I was at the concert and was impressed that you and your friend had come all the way from the Madison area to hear the organ recital. I spoke to you a bit after the concert. Come back again. I live there and dont have to go very far! Sister Antonetta

    1. Were you the sister who shared your program with us, or the one who talked with us after the concert? Either way, we appreciated your friendliness and warm hospitality. I’m sure we’ll be back again. Thank you for offering your summer organ concert series, and for your warm welcome.

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