Sunday past was Pentecost. Fifty days after Easter, the Roman [Catholic] Church, among others, celebrates the gift of the Holy Spirit as she descended upon the apostles and gave them a power to speak in all languages. To reach all people with the Good News.
This Spirit moves and animates in all sorts of interesting ways. After mass the Sunday before (where we celebrated the Ascension), one of the choir members approached me and said “None of us [musicians] will be here next week. So, if you want, you could lead some of the old songs.” Hmmmm. I retired from my role as parish musician several years ago after decades of service. It was a difficult call, and not always a smooth transition to be frank. And, my preference for guitar accompaniment and the songs I would choose seem to be a bit out of line with the current administration. Still, I considered the possibility of leading a song or two acapella.
I subscribe strongly to St. Augustine’s thought: To sing is to pray twice. I have struggled with the current music at church. It is lovely and harmonic and to my soul lacking energy. Most weeks I spend most of mass trying to find the things that can build me up and help me to give thanks. It’s difficult and I am all too often just sad.
Therefore, I did consider a couple of hymns that might be appropriate and singable. Like “Come Holy Ghost.” Much to my surprise Fr. Gil came up to me before mass and said “Kim said you would probably be helping with music this morning.” Now, it seemed I needed to at least lead Come Holy Ghost for opening. I don’t really know the current mass parts well enough to lead them, nor to I particularly like them. But, an opening song, OK. By the time I listened to the readings, I had a second hymn and a closing. So, all I needed was a communion song. Listen to the Spirit, listen to the Spirit, listen to the Spirit.
By the end of mass I had four songs/hymns. I could hear those behind me singing. It felt good. A young couple in the row behind us tapped me on the should and mouthed “Thank you” with a smile. The pastor thanked me for helping (in front of everyone). Again — it felt good. My soul was comforted. Isn’t the Spirit the Comforter?
After mass I was also greeted by a small group who thanked me and encouraged me. Fr. Gil suggested that if I wanted to show up at the Saturday 4:30 mass he would welcome the music. We are definitely Sunday folks, but when I first came to this parish I came on Saturday afternoon and helped with music. Is there a pattern emerging?
Not “doing music” seems to have a much deeper affect on me than I have previously been willing to recognize. Not sure what will happen going forward. At this time I shall enjoy the comfort of the Spirit, the praying twice as I sing. I will appreciate those people who responded to the movement of the Spirit and encouraged me.
It feels good. It feels peaceful. It feels like I’m healing, finally.
I’ve been working on my photography skills of late. At times I focus on the technical aspects, but I find I must also learn to hone my vision. Shots of my grandson’s flag football game certainly indicate that I had a particular player as my focus. Also got some good photos of his family.
It was a great morning — I had no idea that 6 year olds could manage to execute a reverse, a fake (handoff), a handoff or a half back pass. I continue to be amazed by what kids can learn.
I have no idea who Becky Hemsly is, but she speaks to my soul
‘She sat at the back and they said she was shy,
She led from the front and they hated her pride,
They asked her advice and then questioned her guidance,
They branded her loud, then were shocked by her silence,
When she shared no ambition they said it was sad,
So she told them her dreams and they said she was mad,
They told her they'd listen, then covered their ears,
And gave her a hug while they laughed at her fears,
And she listened to all of it thinking she should,
Be the girl they told her to be best as she could,
But one day she asked what was best for herself,
Instead of trying to please everyone else,
So she walked to the forest and stood with the trees,
She heard the wind whisper and dance with the leaves,
She spoke to the willow, the elm and the pine,
And she told them what she'd been told time after time,
She told them she felt she was never enough,
She was either too little or far far too much,
Too loud or too quiet, too fierce or too weak,
Too wise or too foolish, too bold or too meek,
Then she found a small clearing surrounded by firs
,And she stopped...and she heard what the trees said to her,
And she sat there for hours not wanting to leave,
For the forest said nothing, it just let her breathe`
~ Becky Hemsley ~
Maybe this should be titled “Gratitude” or perhaps “Reflections by a Skeptic.” However, I think “Gift” works as that is what I’m reflecting on.
There are some relationships that of late have seemed strained and distant. I believe I have some understanding of why this might be. The misinformation that gives rise to it is painful. The desire to jump up and shout “You’ve got it all wrong!” and proceed with a defensive stance is strong but probably not a useful response. So I sit with the situation, and I wrestle with understanding and forgiveness. And I am seldom of a mind to believe in the Divine Intervention.
On Sunday, in the midst of much disorganization and chaos, I pulled a dear friend aside and asked her to pray over me. She obliged, calling the Spirit to bring healing and wholeness to the immediate situation. I felt a bit of calm, a bit peace and a hope that I would be able to work through the babble and chaos with grace. That was good enough.
Good enough until I was face to face with a couple of people that had exuded a coolness in my direction of late. In every case, there was warmth and peace. An unspoken closing of distance surfaced. Over and over I noticed these flashes. And I marveled. It seems that the Holy Spirit decided that my expectations set the bar a bit too low. The Spirit was not in to simply meeting my expectations – Her vision went far beyond.
Thanks to my friend for her presence in prayer. Thanks to the Spirit who breathes out healing and peace. Thanks for the gift that was, and is, so much greater than expected.
On my way to mass this evening, I had to stop to get gas. Distressing to see what it costs to fuel my car! Besides, I got notice that I was needed to play for mass in mid-afternoon and I wasn’t in a joyful, positive state of mind to begin with. There was a tornado watch in effect. I was tired, and grumpy and just generally out of sorts.
The rain was falling, but just as I finished filling the tank, the sun burst through the clouds. The rain began to fade away. And right there at the Exxon station, I was treated to a full blown, full arc, double rainbow. I had to step out and just gaze at it. My mood began to transform immediately and I thought to myself “Wow! God is reminding me of that there is good everywhere.”
On to mass. Running late. Couldn’t find the second page of the communion hymn. Somebody had made a major mess of the numbers for the hymnboard. No time to check my tuning on my guitar. Went to set the cell phone to silent and saw a missed call from my youngest child who was in an automobile accident yesterday (not his fault, thank goodness). My emotions are hanging out all over my face.
And Fr. Jack proceeds to focus the homily on how God shows up in the most unexpected places (water from a rock in the desert? get real!). Nothing spectacular required. God is present in wine, water, bread and oil. How common and basic can you get? And I thought of the rainbow.
Out of nowhere the sacred is injected into life. In a shared meal, a surprise rainbow, a baby’s smile. Life is good. There is hope.