Saturday, May 1, 2010

Southern Hospitality

Last week I had the fortunate opportunity to visit my cousin Arlan in Atlanta, Georgia. I'd been through the Atlanta airport many times - usually en route to Honolulu, San Francisco, Austin, etc. - but I'd never had the chance to actually leave the airport and explore the city. Well, what better opportunity than to visit family!

My cousin Arlan and I didn't really know each other growing up, but that changed when he moved out to Honolulu back in the mid 90's to become the cathedral musician and choirmaster for St. Andrew's Episcopal Cathedral. Arlan is a brilliant musician, composer, and director - and St. Andrew's was so fortunate to have him. Since I had a background in music and voice, I sang in his cathedral choir for many years, and I felt so blessed to be a part of it. Arlan and I quickly became great friends. We learned to appreciate each others' gifts and talents, and since we were family there were so many things we had in common. It became a lasting friendship.

Eventually I left Hawaii, and several years later Arlan left as well. He took a position as the choirmaster and Director of Music at St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Atlanta. We kept saying we should connect again, but it had been many years. Since one of my intentions this year is to travel "to" people, I decided it was time to see Arlan, booked the ticket, and went to pay a visit.

The trip was incredible. While I was there, Arlan showed me many of the gifts that Atlanta has to offer including seeing Mozart's The Magic Flute preformed by the Atlanta Opera in the new Cobb Energy Performing Arts Center (stunning in itself!), the Atlanta Symphony and Grammy-winning Chorus performance of Verdi's Requiem (a "hold onto your seat" performance!), and a full morning of music, song, and service at St. Luke's on Sunday - powerful, moving, and beautiful. We balanced our activities throughout the trip with walks through Piedmont Park (a mere two blocks away from Arlan's condominium in Midtown), drives down the winding parkways to view the beautiful Georgian homes around Buckhead, and stops for meals and snacks along the way. Another highlight was the Atlanta Botanical Garden and its amazing flowers, trees, and landscapes. A MUST see if you visit Atlanta! The gardens are expanding and adding new features all the time, and it's a great place to "stop and smell the roses" :o)

All in all, the weekend was a wonderful time in so many ways. Atlanta is a beautiful city, the people are so friendly, and I returned to Minnesota with a huge dose of southern hospitality filling me up. This trip reminded me, once again, the importance of family and friends and the roles they play in our lives. It's good to "check in" and maintain those important relationships, for those family and friends are truly what matters.

I wish to all a wonderful spring and remember to get out and experience the world!

Michael on the Move