One of the Elton John songs I don't immediately throw up upon hearing has the repeated line "sorry seems to be the hardest word." Well, he's wrong, at least sometimes. Sometimes it's "Thank you." This is particularly true when what wants to come blasting from your throat at 90 decibels is "There's been a horrible mistake!"
That was sort of how I felt Saturday. For those of you not familiar with the conventions of the Society for Creative Anachronism, this may come out sounding like some sort of hallucinogenic dream, but bear with me for a moment or two.
Saturday I went to an event, specifically Pax Interuptus in the Barony of Thescorre. I have been to many PIs, and usually am happy to go. This weekend there were multiple reasons why I wasn't looking forward to it, but I went anyway, if for no other reason than to finally meet my god-dog, Charlotte (long story, which I'll save for another time). And there would be chosen family there, and a lovely lady was getting an award and I thought it would be nice to be there to see that. So I bundled up the pugs and went.
The trip out (in glorious weather) was more problematic than I'd hoped, took longer than anticipated, and got me to the site trying to be good humored, but on the verge of grumpy. There was predictable foo with parking, but that got sorted, I had lots of lovely help getting things out of the car and to our little setup, which was quite nicely done (there is more about that if you care to read it at 'dicea's post
about the same event). Really, it was no one's fault that the density of persons to the square inch exceeded my tolerance levels by orders of magnitude. And it didn't help that one of our number had gotten exactly 1.5 hours of sleep the night before helping the person in charge of lunch get that ready (though it might have been helpful if that information had been shared so people could have attempted to make life easier--but I digress). And it was hot, and that is never wonderful. But all in all, it was a pleasant time. And then there was court.
Now, I hadn't intended to actually "attend" court. I thought I'd wander over when I saw the lovely lady getting the award get called in. But, then, a half an hour before the scheduled start I was asked to speak in support of her award during the ceremony. I really hadn't brought "court clothes," but sometimes plain tailored attire will suffice, and this was going to have to be one of those times. I went and put on appropriate headgear (see photo above), and my best belt, and that was that. And since I didn't want to be late to speak, I came in partway through court and actually took a seat.
About 5 awards went by, and I was thinking we were close to the peerage awards when I was called into court. Well--first response is panic. Then, well, "maybe it's schtick" because of the letter I sent them [the Crown] about a decision they had made I didn't agree with. So I bowed, came and knelt on the pillow between the thrones, and said "Your Majesties, how may I serve you?" His aside to Her Majesty, "I love when they give Us straight lines like this." And He smiled, shyly, as is His wont, and started talking, but didn't make eye contact. And she was looking at me with that beautiful smile she has (really, she should pose for Medieval portraiture of queens and Madonnas--she's devastating). And he talked about counsel, and advice, and diplomacy, and I really thought he was setting me up for a request of service that I was going to have to find a way to fulfill--some diplomatic envoy, or camp counselor at Pennsic, or something, and I was trying to figure out how to afford it, how to schedule it, how to logistics whatever it was.
And then they called in the Millrinds (the name of our Grant Level service order). I was...poleaxed. And my first impulse was that there was a mistake. To be honest, that is still, on some level, how I feel. I think of the service others did, that earned them a place in the Order, and I don't see how I stand in the same field. I can see how most of them, even with the incredible variety of service, stand together, but I'm having trouble with how I fit there. As I continued kneeling (because of the reaction of surprise now sitting on my heels instead of the posture I had first assumed with the straight thighs, hips, and back I was taught all those years ago in dance classes), I tried to wrap my head around it, but all I could think was "this is wrong, there's been a mistake." To be honest, I don't think I was the only one thinking that based on what I heard behind me. But it was done. And these were a Crowned Pair that I trust absolutely to not do "the wrong thing," and it's a polling order. I couldn't believe they would have gone against the will of the order, which meant at least some of them thought I should stand with them.
And so, I said "thank you" to Their Majesties, and to the order members as they came and embraced me and said kind words. I said totally unambiguous "thank you"s to Sophie and Katie, and later Danny--their work on my behalf was beautiful and I have no hesitancy, no difficulty, in thanking them. But for the rest....
You see, based on the Crown's words, and the scroll I was given, this wasn't primarily for my work as an autocrat, or a Mistress of the Lists, or a class organizer (though I have done all those things). Sometimes. Not often, and not exceedingly well--certainly not at a level appropriate for inclusion in this order. It was for counsel.
Since I am on the faculty at a school where we have degrees in "Counseling," where I have friends who are professional "counselors," I suppose I should be able to wrap my head around this. Perhaps it is too new, both for our organization, and for my brain, to fully come to grips with it. I will try.
What I must do, in the meantime, is treat this as grace, as in something bestowed which comes not necessarily because we deserve it, but because we can
deserve it, if we will but put ourselves to the right thinking and conduct.
That, or it's the Crown's sneaky way of getting back at me for that letter by making me go to more
order meetings. ;-)