Everything is Holy Now

Sometimes I find a song that I just don’t want to lose track of. Susan included this in her Creo en Dios post this morning. It very much speaks to where I am on this journey. And the best way to keep something for real is to share it:

Thanksgiving – delayed reaction

On Thanksgiving Day I opened my email to find a note from my husband’s youngest cousin. It was a blessing that I was unaware of what was going on until it was mostly over. She and her fiance were staying on the 15th floor of the Taj Mahal Hotel in Mumbai when the terrorist attacks occurred. The email was to let family and friends know that they had been evacuated and were safe. So, I could relax a bit, even before I had a chance to worry.

The statement that sticks with me is “As my mom said, We have a lot to be thankful for.” Amen.

This news came on the heels of another friend losing her youngest cousin (a NY firefighter) in a house fire, and another friend’s great-nephew coming oh-so-close to going down in a plane crash. And so, it has taken a week or more to absorb all of this.

It puts me back to that spot that I visit so often: Bad news knocking at the door. Wars and rumors of war, fire, accidents, havoc all around. And the same time, the sheer joy of spending a few days with my granddaughters and family. I was immersed in giggles, glorious weather, good food and fellowship even I the bad news kept knocking at the door.

It makes me thankful – not just for the good things, but for the knowledge that God loves me through it all. It makes me thankful to be able to accept with grace the words of Charles Dickens: “It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.” It even brings to mind words of one of my favorite hymns (How Can I Keep from Singing):

My life goes on in endless song
Above earth’s lamentation
I hear clear, yet far of sound
That hails a new creation

Through the tumult and the strife
I hear the Music ringing
If Love is Lord of Heaven and Earth
How can I keep from Singing?

Flash back

November 22 – St. Cecilia’s feast day. I’m a church musician and I have visited the catacombs outside of Rome where Cecilia died. I pray not to die a martyr’s death, but I also know that music and singing stand a good chance of being a comfort to me whenever God calls me home.

November 22, 1963… I was in the 5th grade. I was being raised a good protestant Christian in a part of the country where a Roman Catholic president was regarded with suspicion at best, and disgust more likely. I had a friend whose parents took us to hear Kennedy speak when he came to the area. The local airport didn’t have a runway that could accomodate Air Force One, so they had to land in Huntsville about 70 miles away. He didn’t seem so strange.

Coming in from the playground (PE class?) I remember the day being gray and the flag at half mast. I’d never seen a flag at half mast — none of us had. And then the teachers had to explain that President Kennedy had been shot and killed. I remember watching the funeral mass on TV and talk about the color of the vestments (not black? did priests ever wear black? I don’t know). I remember little John Kennedy trying to comprehend what was going on.

I’ve been a practicing Catholic for more years now than I was a protestant. I’m a totally Vatican II type. I’m not sure I could have made the leap into the pre-Vatican II church. Today I was trying to read some documents on liturgy because of a comment made by one of our musicians today. And I sat and thought — these rules and guidelines are all well and good. But, I’m sure they matter much more to human beings than they do to the Creator. I can only maintain my sanity when I read through them and dig deeply into the underlying message. The message that reminds me that prayer is not just words, but action and attitude and listening. The message that reminds me to do my part to make a space for prayer not only for myself but for those I serve.

November 22 is a day to remember.

Pachabel: Canon in D

Soul Music. World Music. Music of the Universe…

The opening measures of the cello repeat throughout the entire piece, like the eternal music of the soul. Deep, grounded, constant. And then the higher strings chime in and begin to move atop the solid foundation. They get lighter and more joyful until the notes are dancing and flying into the air.

This is music that induced a deep, meditative state in my. I can hear the cello anchoring me. Giving me rest. And from that deep place the other strings begin to vibrate. I feel the joy of being so grounded that I can dance and fly and laugh — all without fear. Anchored, and yet free to move and bloom.

How does that happen? The music is the most vivid image of Life in Christ to me. So grounded, so calm, so steady — It’s like the gospel from last Sunday: Be not afraid. I am with you. I will be there, eternal and loving. Go forth, and don’t be afraid. No matter what happens, good or bad, flat or sharp or right on key, I am here, under it all, constant but moving. Only fear that which can cut you off from this grounding, from your own soul. Now go forth to love and live and vibrate like the strings of the violin.

Soul music. World music. Music of the Universe…

How Can I Keep from Singing?

There’s an old (Shaker?) hymn that has been keeping me company of late:

My life flows on in endless song;
Above earth’s lamentation
I hear the sweet though far off hymn
That hails a new creation:
Through all the tumult and the strife
I hear the music ringing;
It finds an echo in my soul—
How can I keep from singing?

What though my joys and comforts die?
The Lord my Savior liveth;
What though the darkness gather round!
Songs in the night He giveth:
No storm can shake my inmost calm
While to that refuge clinging;
Since Christ is Lord of Heav’n and earth,
How can I keep from singing?

I lift mine eyes; the cloud grows thin;
I see the blue above it;
And day by day this pathway smoothes
Since first I learned to love it:
The peace of Christ makes fresh my heart,
A fountain ever springing:
All things are mine since I am His—
How can I keep from singing?

Usually I sing the modified words that Pete Seeger wrote, where the Savior is Truth, Christ is Love, and the refuge is rock, etc. But the essence if still the same and it leads me to that quiet place where I am in touch with Love and Truth and the powerful Presence (of God) that is the underpinning of all creation. Once there, How can I keep from singing?