Sunday, October 11, 2009

Deep River

If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around, does it still make a noise?

If I give something up,is it still a sacrifice if it doesn’t hurt?

Today was the beginning of the annual Golder Parish Shuffle. For the next six months or so--until Easter Eve, my groom and I will rarely worship in the same place and at the same time. He’ll be taking care of the Adult Education Class in our home parish on the mountain, and I am teaching RCIA at the mission parish in the valley. The only common Sunday experience we’re likely to have for a while (holidays and vacations excluded) is to pray the rosary for priests and vocations just before Mass on the mountain--it can be done and still leave time for me to get to my RCIA class on time.

As we knelt in the chapel this morning, we heard the choir rehearsing. Our soloist began singing an old spiritual that somehow struck me deep inside, and made me miss things and people from my past. Music, like scent, is primal and it tends to bring me unbidden sharply back into other places and times. In this case, it brought me to the Anglo-Catholic Episcopal parish that was our home for so many years before we swam the Tiber. Great music was a given and an essential there, and this particular piece, even down to the notes of the arrangement, was so familiar that I was immediately transported back, smelling the incense, the flowers, the wine; seeing the candles, the vestments, the windows, in that former place, at that former time.

It made me think about the upcoming months, where I would miss hearing our soloist’s lovely voice on Sundays--though I will enjoy the less tutored vitality of music in our mission church. I realized I’ll miss standing by my husband--though I’ll rejoice in the fellowship of friends there. I realized I’ll miss the stimulation of participating in the Adult Forum--even as I experience the joy of leading a new group of inquirers into the intricacies of the Catholic Church.

From the outside, it sure looks like I’m giving up a lot. A real sacrifice.

From the inside, it’s more like a trade than a loss, and I’ve gotten the better part of the bargain.

It was serendipitous that today’s reading was about the wealthy young man who wanted to know how to achieve the Kingdom of Heaven. Give up what gets in the way, even if it is good, we are told, and you will receive so much more. Counterintuitive and difficult (I still need to clean out the basement and my bookshelves) but so very real and powerful and I am glad for the small, unexpected experiences that prove that to me.

As we undertake another year (and I resume blogging after my extended absence), I celebrate that message. I am glad of the opportunity to shed my comfort, drive down the mountain and teach. I rejoice in a husband who gladly lets me go, and himself remains behind, another catechist. I am thankful to give the time to listen, read, think and dig deep in my faith so that I may help others explore too. I celebrate the life, the music, the people who by their faith and efforts have brought me here and brought me forward, especially those now separated from me by geography or conviction. Most of all, I am thankful beyond words for the Church that centers, challenges and enriches my life, all day, every day.

For all the sacrifices of others that brought me to the Catholic Church and for all that I will make that might bring others here too, thanks be to God.

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