Summer Hiking

Summer Hiking
Mt. Constitution

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Silent Night

From Mary Katherine Deeley's advent reflections I read, "It never fails that the closer it gets to Christmas, the noisier it gets.  But after the last present is wrapped, the last prayer said, and the last child tucked away, a blessed and holy silence rains down and the world hold its collective breath.  Jesus' birth was long ago, but still there is something special about this silent night that makes us turn in love to family and friends or reach out to a stranger."
I'm kind of holding my breath right now, waiting for the kids and grands to arrive for a Christmas Eve meal before Mass.  My silent home is about to erupt with the sounds of children, a dog or two, and Anne's high school friend, Chris,  and her daughter, Abby, strangers to me.  I'm really used to the silence now and this advent season seems like the silence gave me a longing to share love with others.  Whether it's the spirit of Jesus within me or some little transformation, I could not get enough of the people to whom I took the Eucharist or picked their name off the tree at St. Stan's.  Retirement brought the joy of taking time to be with several elders confined to long term care facilities.  I visited a former Clarkston neighbor and his wife at Royal Plaza.  Joyce has Alzheimer's, but Bob recognized me the moment he opened the door!  Joy, not sadness greeted me!

I tried to set up a radio station on Pandora that would just play Silent Night songs, but it didn't work.  The song always brings tears to my eyes - probably from early childhood memories of singing around the piano at the Kopczynski grandparents home.  Even though Uncle John is gone, I am able to listen to Stille Nacht on YouTube.  What is it about a song that bubbles emotions to the surface?  Memories?  Desire for peace?  Longing for simplicity?  Silence in a noisy world?

We all managed to get to St. Stan's for the Family Mass at 4 PM.  I had nostalgic feelings because next year our Masses will be in our big new church.  I love Christmas at St. Stan's - the church is decorated with lights and red poinsettia's.  But, the church really is too small for a 4 o'clock Family Mass.  We arrived at 3:30 and already there was "no room in the Inn."  The O'Shaughnessy's were a little smarter than the Wessels because they captured seats by arriving at 3, as well as Larry and his whole family - 2nd row!
It was crowded and quite distracting with all the children and people we rarely see at church.  But never mind, God sent His Son to us for that very reason - to be among us, among the noise, the chaos, the sadness, the joy, the clutter, the imperfections, the hugs and the tears.  The Mass ended with my favorite of all songs, Silent Night!  I felt incredible joy even though my eyes were stinging with tears.

My little house felt crowded with 10 people, but we managed to pray a Christmas blessing, offer a toast, welcome strangers, open gifts, and take annual Grandma-Grandkid pictures.  I copied a Table Liturgy prayer from my favorite prayer book, "Prayers for the Domestic Church," by Edward Hays.  Nothing touches me more than to have my family read and share prayers.  Bradleigh read, "As we light our candles, may the eternal light of God sine upon our table and fill our home."  We missed Karen, who had to work all day. Gratefully, I had another celebration with the O'Shaughnessy's opening gifts and sharing Peppermint Ice Cream.

The gifts were a bit unusual this year - Coconut Oil for each family - we continue to search for ways to improve our health.  A strange family picture meant to imply that a professional photographer would be hired to get a really good one of all of us.  Colin's college fund gift that generated this response, "Well thank you, Grandma, that will probably pay for 2 days of college."  Some new shoes, fishing stuff, X-Box games, USB battery charging station, Yoga gear, heavy fireproof safes, pillow cases, and soft blankets for the family pets.
After Mass I enjoyed a walk through Locomotive Park with Anne's friends from Ohio.  I always enjoy the lights, but even more so with friends from out of town.  
 Abby and Chris warming up by the fire
Anne and Chris

This morning boxes and wrapping paper await the journey to the re-cycling bin, but Christmas joy continues as I ready myself for a trip to Moscow to join the kids for Christmas Day.  

Someone sent me this sweet poem by Howard Thurman

I will light Candles this Christmas,
Candles of joy despite all the sadness,
Candles of hope where despair keeps watch,
Candles of courage for fears ever present,
Candles of peace for tempest-tossed days, 
Candles of grace to ease heavy burdens,
Candles of love to inspire all my living,
Candles that will burn all year long.

When the song of the angels is stilled,
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flock,
The work of Christmas begins:
To find the lost,
To heal the broken,
To feed the hungry,
To release the prisoner,
To rebuild the nations,
To bring peace among others,
To make music in the heart.
Even though the silent night has come and gone I pray that we continue to reach out in love to our families, friends, and strangers!
Merry Christmas

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