Birdsong

The sky is still that pre-dawn pink color and the family room is quiet.  Every so often I can hear Jake the dog snore, already dozing again after his rapidly-consumed breakfast.  I’m in no hurry to turn on the TV or even grind the coffee beans yet; there’s an almost sacredness to this blissful silence.  Hardly any cars pass by on the street outside the window and things are just so very peaceful until…I hear the faintest chirping sound.  I strain my ears to hear and sure enough, there it is again…I get up off the couch to look out the window overlooking the raised garden bed.  No birds to be seen, but those are birds I hear.

I know there’s plenty of birds that stick around in Central New York all winter.  I know there’s still another month until spring.  But the sound of birds outdoors this morning is enough to remind me that this winter cannot last forever.  Springtime always comes.  There’s a rhythm to the seasons.  But we must wait.

In the beginning days of the Lenten season, Easter seems so far away.   Our liturgies are simpler, the Alleluia’s gone, and bare branch wreaths adorn our doors.   We take time to pause, to reflect, to look inward, to reach out to others.  Easter always comes.  There’s a rhythm to the liturgical seasons.  But we must wait.

Every springtime season I challenge myself to pay attention to the buds on the trees and try to determine when the leaves really appear.  That probably sounds strange, but once we get a couple of nice springtime days, I forget that challenge and it’s not until the leaves have been around a week or two that I remember I was supposed to watch.  This year will be different.  I hope.

Every Lenten season I challenge myself to pay attention to the Scriptures, to do Lent a little bit better than last year.  Most years I take a few steps forward and occasionally those are followed by a few steps back.  Ash Wednesday this year found me with a sinus congestion and a drippy nose.  It wasn’t pretty, and I never even got Ashes.   But I’m not giving up.  We still have lots of time left before Easter.  I got this.  I have a faith community to journey with me.  And birdsong to remind me that Easter, like springtime, always comes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Domestic church

It seems like just yesterday when our own three children had many questions during their Sunday mornings at Mass:  A few I remember more than others:  When could they have “the cracker”?  (their observation of Eucharist), was that guy Jesus? (no, that’s our priest, honey), and why was everybody being quiet? (they’re praying.) Over time, they learned the rhythm of the Liturgy, how to follow along with the psalm response, how to extend a hand at the sign of peace, and their favorite, blessing themselves with the Holy Water.  Over time, our children came to understand that church was God’s house and we are all God’s people.

Not every visit to church was a Hallmark moment, I can assure you!  At the risk of sounding irreverent, some weeks may have resembled a scene from The Exorcist, and well-meaning folks looked at us with a mixture of pity and horror.  There were weeks when one of us would calm a crying infant in the church vestibule or accompany a potty-training toddler to the church restroom for the umpteenth time, but we just tried to do what we thought was best for our growing family.  For anyone who ever had to hand us a pacifier, hot wheels car or sippy cup that fell to the floor and rolled in front of us, I offer you my thanks.

Our baby years are far behind us now, but every time I see a young family with children at Mass, I want to thank them for taking the time and effort to share our common Catholic faith and traditions.  It’s much easier to stay at home, so I solute our young families for being courageous and committed to passing along our culture.  Let’s keep these traditions alive in our hearts and in our homes so that they may not be lost or forgotten.

Lent is the perfect time to re-commit ourselves to the love of God and the love of others.  Praying with our parish community strengthens our resolve to be a Gospel people.  Let’s really LIVE Lent this year, friends.  And let’s keep welcoming and encouraging our young families, as they are our future church!

 

Birthday Blessings

If I said, “Birthday Sunday” to anyone in our parish, I’m pretty sure they’d know I was referring to the monthly Birthday blessing for all the people celebrating a Birthday in that month.  I must admit, I really love seeing all the smiles on the faces of those being blessed, young and old alike.  It’s such a simple thing and yet it’s a reminder that all of us are loved and valued and celebrated.

It didn’t dawn on me until today that February is my mom’s birthday month.  She’s been gone from us for a long time, but memories of many family birthday celebrations through the years bring comfort and even a smile as I look back.  Our mother made sure that each of us five siblings and our Dad had our favorite type of birthday cake and meal each year.  For Dad, that usually was a Lemon Meringue or Cherry Pie.  I almost always asked for her yellow cake with chocolate fudge frosting.  Mom did not make a big fuss about her own birthday, but her birthday cake had to be Angel Food with strawberries.   It didn’t matter that strawberries in upstate New York are not in season during February—she was perfectly content with the frozen sliced strawberries and a little bit of sugar.  She just loved angel food cake so much, and yet, it’s such a simple, ordinary cake.

The older I get, the more I understand that often in simplicity is beauty found.  There is joy in the simple, quiet, ordinary everyday moments all around us.  I also am learning not to take some things for granted.  I wish I had taken the time to have asked Mom what her favorite meal was, but I almost think she would have said, “any meal where we’re ALL gathered around the table is my favorite meal.”  I know it was Mom (and Dad) who first brought me to Mass and instilled the love of the LORD and Eucharist and parish that burns deep within. And I’m so grateful for that gift more than all the birthday cakes and dinners through the years.  Every time I see an angel food cake, I think of our mom and her infectious laugh and all she taught me.  And that, indeed, is a blessing!