Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Reflections about Cindy As She Sets Off On A New Adventure

Tonight I’d like to pay tribute to my dear friend and colleague, Cindy Bauchspies, who is leaving AACS after 24 years, to pursue graduate studies. I have been thinking about what it is that makes Cindy so lovely and admirable, what has made her such an important teacher, such a beautifully talented musician, such a dear person and friend and I have a few ideas that I think you will agree with. Cindy has an uncommon respect for our Lord, for life and for others. It’s more like a loving reverence for God and all that He has made.

A few quotes come to mind when trying to describe Cindy’s gift and impact. Elizabeth Goudge describes our Lord Jesus as carrying the splendor of His divinity in his human body in the way that “a lantern carries its gold.” Think of a mundane, lantern, it is useful; it may be rough or it may be beautiful, perhaps made with great care and craftsmanship… Though Cindy recognizes the lantern’s beauty and worth, her focus stays upon the gold within.

I think that this is one of the things that has distinguished Cindy’s time at AACS. In her teaching, her contributions to the school culture, the godly and lasting relationships she’s formed, the honor she has shown the Lord in her service, she has always valued the gold within. She has dedicated her time to shielding that sometimes flickering light, to holding the lantern up so that the bright light of God’s love can be best seen.

What I mean by this can perhaps be illustrated with a couple of anecdotes chosen from thousands that would also apply.

I had the opportunity to accompany AACS’ Madrigals twice on trips to the International Music Festival in Switzerland. I treasure the memories of those wonderful trips—hearing the choirs’ voices soar to fill up the grand, hallowed spaces of those ancient churches. I loved seeing the fruit of Cindy’s training and encouragement, the reflection of her stellar standards. But once or twice things went wrong on the trips. Students (I can’t remember exactly which students) made some poor choices… and then there was the awful time that one student was temporarily lost.

Though her reputation would certainly have been touched if we’d come home from Europe without a certain spunky Madrigal, Cindy was not concerned about herself. Instead I saw an absorbing concern for the students’ well being. She wished them to be safe, to be wise, to learn all that they could from the incident. She filled her role as their teacher and protector with humility, honesty and great love. This exemplifies Cindy’s approach to her students and also to her colleagues:

She thinks the best of others. And though she may be frustrated by a situation, she seeks how to best honor the people involved. I have never heard her say something faithless, or catty, or unkind about a colleague or a student. She looks for the gold within; that is what is important to her.

Another incident involved one of my own children. As many of you have also experienced, Cindy reached out to my children, the singers and non-singers both. When my daughter was in seventh grade, Cindy heard something wonderful one day when Val sang in choir. She kept Valerie after class. Cindy did not say, “you did great!” or “what a beautiful voice!” She was careful with Valerie because she lives in this respectful way, lives with a higher vision. Instead, she said, “Do you know what happened today?”

Valerie answered, “There was a jewel in my throat.” I don’t remember what Cindy said in response to Val’s description, but in her gentle, careful way she helped Valerie recognize what God had given her. In this way Cindy created an awareness in Valerie that her gift was first connected to God— a gift that was after that also skillfully and lovingly nurtured by Cindy. I am grateful to her for this and I know that her former students and parents of students have similar treasured memories of her service to God and to us.

Cindy has been a mentor to so many, many young people, loving them, bringing out the best in them, befriending them, cooking for them, drying their tears, telling them the truth, coaching them in their musical endeavors long after they had graduated. She has a way of appreciating their unique gifts—musical or not— with the most genuine enthusiasm, celebrating the bright light that God has put in each. And in this way of giving, I think Cindy has helped to create what has often been a beautiful community at AACS.

Abundant heartfelt giving of self is typical of Cindy’s relationships with her students, her colleagues and friends.  There is something within Cindy that treasures what the poet G. M. Hopkins defines as “the dearest freshness deep down things.” She approaches living with her arms wide open, relishing all that God is doing. I remember her happiness as we toured tiny French villages with the Madrigals—equally thrilled with the view of the mountain, a student’s latest joke, the robust taste of the coffee, or the color of the tiniest wildflower.

When others falter and perhaps cannot see this “dearest freshness” in things, Cindy tries to remind us. I remember that Cindy chose a song for the choirs to sing that was especially meaningful to our colleague, Georgia Shockley, when Georgia had suffered the loss of both her parents in just a few months… And I will never forget her coming to the hospital with me when my own mother lay dying; she sat with me and read scriptures with me; then at the funeral, she played the piano as beautifully as only Cindy can play.

How many of the school community can remember with me how she took us as her own sisters and brothers, laughing when we laughed, supporting our class programs, interested in what we were teaching, ready to pray for needs great and small, weeping when we wept, listening to our questions, answering with hope from that beautiful pure spirit within her, living as Christ to us?

When I heard that Cindy was leaving AACS I wanted to make sure that I attended her final concert there. Many times during the evening my eyes filled with tears. There were so many beautiful memories of years of teaching, of dear students and parents, of concerts… O Nata Lux, The 23rd Psalm, Homeward Bound, My Lord From a Garden Rose, Bogoroditse Devo, all the Moses Hogan songs, How Can I Keep From Singing, Ubi Caritas, Jingalyea, Apple Tree and so many more.  

You probably remember songs also, favorite ones where the music touched the sublime and the lyrics touched our hearts. I remember so many students’ faces, eyes shining brightly as they sang. I remember the choirs singing “The Gloria” at St. Anne’s on Church Circle. They were squeezed into the lovely space, shoulder to shoulder, shuffling from foot to foot, glancing up at the nave above them painted to look like a little, low heaven. They began to sing, suddenly wide-eyed with awe at beginning  what seemed like a difficult and important piece. They were transformed to more than themselves.  The heavens cooperated with our beloved choir conductor that night —flashing lightning, providing thunder for percussion. And we were thrilled, touched and inspired.

The concerts were always an inspiration to me, they gave me strength and vision to continue to try my best to teach and care for my students. I loved seeing the all the different students, so many different colors of hair and varying shades of skin tones. But most of all, I loved seeing the students who while in class behaved mischievously, or badly, who were lost and confused, or half asleep suddenly look earnest, even angelic. I loved hearing them sing with heart and skill. It was to me a picture of humanity. All of us are—in some way or another— lost, confused, or badly behaved, and yet He sees the gold in us and in faith that this wonderful thing is true, we come together to lift our hopeful and grateful hearts to God.  Cindy gave us a picture of heaven in her teaching and in her day-by-day example.

I know that you, as I do, treasure memories like this. Thank you Cindy, for seeing the gold in so many of us, for believing in the beautiful things in life despite the evidence to the contrary, for celebrating that and bringing it out in the way you walked with us, in the way you taught and befriended us, and in the way you represented the Lord to us. May the Lord bless your days and endeavors even more richly. I speak for all of us here when I say, “We love and admire you with all our hearts.”


  1. That was absolutely beautiful and so very true!

  2. I love the opening picture, for this is exactly how I remember Cindy! And thank you for writing very true and beautiful words about a wonderful person who points wholly towards the One who is hope and light. I felt this greatly as not only a very non-musical student but also as a friend and colleague! Thanks for writing this!