Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Full Moon: Worm Moon

On 22 March 2016, people across the world will be able to see the full moon rise in the sky. Nothing unusual compared to other months, except that at this time of the year as winter gives way to spring, the phenomenon is also known under another name: Worm Moon.
Referring in such a way to the March full moon is a tradition dating back to Native Americans who gave names to the different full moons to symbolise what was going on in their natural environment and to mark the seasons. Generally speaking, moon cycles were followed closely by the different tribes to keep track of the passing of time.
As the last winter full moon, the 'Worm Moon' was closely associated with spring, rebirth and renewal. It got its name from the worm trails that would appear as nature began waking up and earthworms started showing themselves. With earthworms, the tribes also saw the return of robins, the brightly coloured birds that are synonymous with warmth and sunshine.
Some Native American Tribes also knew the March full Moon under other names. One of the most popular in the northern parts of America was "Crow Moon", as the birds' cawing announced the end of the cold winter months.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Judah Ben Hur

It is Palm Sunday and I enjoyed presiding at two masses this weekend. As I came home to relax, I prepared for the week and then turned on the television. As Downton Abbey is now over, I saw that Ben Hur was airing. The last time I watched the film was in Atlanta in 1993 during a business trip for Item Processing training. I recall talking with three men from the South who were very much Christians. They watched the film the previous night and we were able to discuss it in some length. I recall the zeal that I had for my faith.

As I watched it again tonight, I felt as though I had never seen it before. I scarcely remember anything about the first part of the movie and since I was in Jordan, I saw new things about it that I never paid attention to earlier. It was quite moving. It was a long film, with awkward music, and sometimes odd production, but it still captures my desire to follow Jesus. The first time I saw it I was committed to following that good man named Jesus and I wanted to see more of him in the film. Today, the film inspires my imagination in more mature ways, but I want to grasp onto his kindness and goodness.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

A Quiet Day at the Monastery

I was at one of my favorite places to visit today - St. Joseph's Abbey in Spencer, Massachusetts. I visited with two friends and had some time to stop by their top notch bookstore and gift shop. The monks are now displaying gifts from each of their monasteries - honey, syrup, coffee cakes, fruitcakes, biscotti, coffee, caramels, candies, plus the regular preserves. Spencer Abbey is now working on brewing their third craft ale.

Despite a quiet, reflective day, I found myself in a hilariously unquiet lunch. The men of a particular family was making a weekend retreat, as they do every year before Holy Week. It is quite a good idea, plus it is touching that these men dedicate a week of silence to their faith.

After the guest master prayed, the scramble towards the pot roast ensued. No one spoke a word, but these bodies do not know how to move in silence. So many sounds emanated their movements - sighs, bumps, crashes, clicks, every conceivable sound. I sat in the midst of it and just laughed interiorly. These men loved their food. The retreat house was not the usual silence to which I was accustomed, but I suspect these men had a vigorous weekend with the Lord. God certainly is alive in all things.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

The effect of music

Our concerts are over and we are very content. We are basking as we delighted the audiences and sent them home with a song in their heart. The 1960's folk music sing-a-long had the audience clapping and singing while they relived the days of their youth. It was so fun to see. The power of music to cure people and to raise their spirits is real.

It is strange how the body adapts to music. We gave everything we had last night to the performance and yet we needed to reserve energy for today's performance. The body does not rest as a second performance in on the horizon. Upon rising in the morning, it did not seem possible for my voice to regroup or to get the necessary energy levels back, but the body adjusts. As soon as the conductor's baton is raised, everything falls into place: The body steps up the plate, the voice raises itself to the appropriate pitch, and the whole body is oriented to the conductor's plan. Quite amazing.

Now that the performances are complete, my body energies are sinking low. I'll sleep well tonight, and tomorrow we'll begin rehearsing for the June 4th Mozart mass.

Most especially, the chorus felt like it had a duty to sing because these songs bring people together. In a divisive political arena, it is important to be reminded that we states are united and indivisible. We are one country. Sometimes, it is best that we perceive ourselves as one united nation that can easily hold individual differences but that we can still like one another in our diversity. After all, this land was made for you and me.

The big question that was raised by these concerts were answered: How can we keep from singing? It seems it is what we have been called to do.