Friday, December 24, 2010

More holiday musings

After pouring my heart out here last weekend about my feelings about the holidays, some healing words came my way from various sources.

From "Thoughts from Wayne" - an email newsletter from Wayne Muller:

"As spirit incarnated in human flesh, our life on earth, as children of the human family, is not a problem to be solved; it is a gift to be opened. The color of the sky, the song of a bird, a word of kindness, a strain of music, the sun on our face, the companionship of friends, the shape of clouds in summer, the red of maples in fall - these and a thousand tiny miracles punctuate a single day in a precious human life.

"If we are so preoccupied with plotting our future success or failures, we unintentionally impoverish ourselves by ignoring the astonishing harvest of these small gifts, piled one upon the other, that accumulate without our awareness or acknowledgment.

"Whatever we choose, however we decide to use our days, the shape of our days becomes the shape of our lives. For this and countless other reasons, many spiritual traditions focus their practice on the way we most honorably and authentically place our heart's best attention on one single day. As the psalmist reminds us, This is the day the Lord hath made; let us rejoice and be glad in it."

The song of a bird...

And Rachelle Mee-Chapman described one message from the Christmas story in a free video from her Flock sampler, titled "What to do with Christmas?" The first time I heard her say it I had to back up the video and watch that part again:

"there is a divine force, a divine being and that divine being wants to interact with us here on earth."

Tap, tap, tap.

The psalmist quotation from Wayne Muller's email struck me, because many years ago at SS Felicitas & Perpetua we used to sing these lines as a song and I could picture our Principal, wonderful Sister Claudine, who loved music and was truly so in love with God it was palpable. She used to lead us in a 70s love song that's eluding me right now, that she clearly associated with her vows - it was really sweet.

And then it reminded me of Father Perry, a young priest who eventually left our church (I always felt as a result of his being more popular than the older Monseigneur - do you start to understand the stirrings of my disillusionment with the Church?) and on the day of his last service, from up behind us in the choir loft, led us in a hymn I totally associated with him, the lines of which were "Be not afraid, I go before you always. Come follow me, and I will give you rest." Listening to this version on YouTube (even with the female voice singing) totally brings back powerful memories of hearing it during communion (I'm remembering it was pretty common during that part of Mass), people getting back to their pew, kneeling, the sounds of the congregation shifting around - I can practically smell it:)

Anyway, of course I Googled him, because that's what we do these days. And I don't know if this is the same Father Perry, because for all I know he could even have left the church, but I did find a Father Perry, in the same The Roman Catholic Archdiocese. I have no idea how these things work - perhaps he would have stayed in Los Angeles - who knows? But I was browsing around on the St. Joseph Parish website where a Rev Perry Leiker is the Pastor and was checking out a recent newsletter, talking about the Advent season and this section caught my eye:

"to open every spiritual pore of our being to a truth so profound: that our God loves us and wants to be with us, within us, for us, and this - forever!"

I'm not saying I had some kind of epiphany or conversion experience, but I will say that something has shifted for me and right now the world feels like a friendlier place. Or perhaps I'm more open to the friendship.

I hope you have a wonderful Christmas Eve! May you enjoy the simple, loving gifts of the season.