Later there will be time for maneuvering traffic. Later there will be time for phone calls, emails, meetings. Later there will be time to see people and remember to smile, just in case they haven’t seen a smile in a while. Later there will be time to clean the windows and floors. Later.
But these next few minutes shall be for appreciating the way the steam from my coffee dances into the morning sunlight. These next few minutes will be for a few prayers whispered from my heart in the morning silence. These next few minutes are for stillness and gratitude for this day, knowing “later” will be here so quickly.
We Made It! 2017 has arrived! What should we do first? Accept new challenges? Learn new skills and talents? Resolve to make great and lasting changes and generally shake up the status quo? Perhaps, soon, but not today.
For me, the first day of January is set aside for tradition. For the better part of 25 years that tradition has included attending Mass at the nearest Catholic church. That’s the new part. The old part, the really, really old part, is having lunch at home on New Year’s Day. It’s one of my favorite meals of the entire year with a set menu of black-eyed peas, collard greens, roasted pork of some sort, corn bread with butter, and sweet tea, every year. Every single year for as long as I can recall, this meal has been prepared by my grandmother, aunts, mother with intentions and prayers for all who join in the meal to enjoy health, love, happiness and prosperity in the coming year. Another tradition for me is that this simple, hearty meal to begin the new year is ALWAYS served on fine china, and the sweet iced tea in tall crystal.
This year I noticed my 17-year-old son take a snapshot of the table and his plate to send to his girlfriend. Sure, it could be just an idle text on what’s going on at that moment, but it could also be an intentional sharing of his traditions as well. My heart hopes that’s the case.
It’s just lunch with the family. It doesn’t change the responsibilities awaiting when school and businesses reopen; obligations and opportunities await in the coming days; but for the first lunch of the new year we will celebrate in a more special way one of countless beautiful, familiar moments that happen in and amongst our daily lives; for this one meal, on this one day, the love spans centuries.
Perhaps later this week I’ll consider resolutions, but for now I simply want to wish you all a safe and happy new year! May it be filled with great friendships, deep love, and wonderful adventures and timeless traditions. Welcome to 2017, my friends.
There’s a question I ask the middle school youth with whom I get to spend many Sunday evenings: “Where did you see God this past week?” We’ve come to call these “God Sightings” and I cherish their trust in sharing their experiences with me. This beautiful, breezy, cool, autumn Monday, I’d like to share some of my “God sightings” over this past weekend
There were glimpses throughout the news coverage and personal videos of folks weathering the storm. There were glimpses on social media as folks were praying for others and helping neighbors and strangers alike. There were glimpses in the blue sky and autumn breezes along the Blue Ridge Parkway, but truly – the most impactful “God Sighting” I had this past weekend was sitting as a visitor, a few rows back from the front of St. Leo the Great Catholic Church in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
If you’ve ever been to Catholic Mass, you know the format: Readings from the Old & New Testament first, then a homily by the priest, usually tying the two together in relevance and grounding. If you haven’t ever attended a Catholic Mass, here’s your invitation. They happen every day. Anyway, after both readings on gratitude this weekend I was expecting a reminder to be grateful for the gifts received into my life. I got so much more.
Rather than remaining at the altar to speak, the priest came down to the first few rows of the congregation commenting on how the Holy Spirit sometimes moves on a different schedule than we humans can understand.
What happened next was a short few lines inviting us to look around at one another and to remember that WE represent Christ and the Church to everyone who encounters us. There is always something that draws folks into or pushes folks away from Church; and on that day, the goodness, welcoming nature, and love of the people in that community was being reminded of to be grateful for one another. Rather than leave the congregation, the priest introduced a young man, had him stand up, and confirmed him there in a beautiful ceremony with a full congregation in attendance.
Normally this process of adults being received into the Catholic Church is reserved for a ceremony during Easter. But this young man asked for Confirmation early, and was granted it, because as a U.S. Marine he may not be here with his family or congregation next Easter. At the end of the service, the priest reminded everyone once again of OUR role in keeping one another uplifted, not only in times of trials and storms, but in the ordinary times as well. And really, if we think about it and look for those moments of Grace, I think even the ordinary time qualifies as a beautiful gift.