Lighten Up

A Grace Note and a Concert Hall


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In the year 2000, I began working for the Elkhart Township assessor’s office. In the prior 17 years, I worked in the private sector, where independent thought and productivity were highly valued attributes. Government is an entirely different environment.

Never before had I been given a voluminous employee handbook to read nor had I been required to withstand a day-long orientation covering everything from bathroom breaks to bomb threats (both of which I thought I could handle on my own without orientation). I was not at all prepared for the large number of rules and regulations and the small amount of space in my new work cubicle.

My saving grace in the transition from the real work world into bureaucracy was my co-worker, Grace Johnson. She had survived many years as a civil servant and that fact alone commanded my respect. Grace possessed the ability to work accurately and efficiently while maintaining a great sense of humor. Honestly, there is little hope of enduring local government without a robust sense of humor.

Part of the task of an assessor is to review blueprints of buildings that are under construction in an attempt to calculate an estimated value prior to the building being completed. One of my first blueprint reviews was that of the Music Center at Goshen College. There were more than 30 pages of blueprints with every detail itemized: plumbing, electrical, floors, walls, ceilings and even the parking lot with appropriate landscaping. The review of the plans took more than a week, during which time it became crystal clear that this was going to be an exceptional facility.

It took me until 2012 to ever set foot in this beautiful building. I knew from my work on the plans that this venue was aesthetically and acoustically superior. It was not until I attended a Christmas concert performed by the Maple City Chamber Orchestra that I could truly appreciate the gloriousness of this hall.

The value of this building cannot possibly be calculated by counting fixtures or grading floor and ceiling treatments. The majesty of the Sauder Concert Hall is in the caliber of the talent that is showcased within its walls.

My good friend, Grace, invited me to the Christmas concert because she had been invited to play with the orchestra as a substitute. Another reason I admire Grace so very much is that she started playing her clarinet again after many years of raising her family and working full time. She is loving every minute of her return to music and she still has a great sense of humor. For all of this and more, she is my hero!

Since December, I have had the distinct pleasure of attending the Goshen College faculty recital and the Goshen College Chamber Choir event.

I am richly blessed by the high value of a great friendship and by the beautiful music available through the Goshen College Music Center.

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3 Responses

  1. Shirley Hershey Showalter

    February 13, 2013 6:28 pm

    The first time I walked into Sauder Concert Hall, I cried tears of joy. You describe beautifully the Grace that place exudes. I credit the community and the love of music that grows right out of the ground in that place. Thanks for this beautiful essay.

  2. Grace Johnson

    February 14, 2013 1:53 pm

    Becca, thank you for the kind words. I am so grateful you took the job in the Assessor’s Office and we became such good friends.

  3. chibgratz

    February 14, 2013 10:25 pm

    I have been in the concert hall and it is spledid…most of the talent is too! So glad you shared with others the gifts of these people and this special space.


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