This morning I sipped my coffee in my sun room. The sliding glass door was partially open and the curtains are dancing to a gentle breeze that passes through. Outside the sky is gloomy grey and the ground is still wet from all the rain we’ve had recently.
It would have been a perfect morning to go hiking. I pictured myself entering the woods just after dawn, inhaling through my nostrils the smell of the wet earth, the trees and plants and the river. I’d think to myself there’s no other place I’d rather be. The fact that I couldn’t get into the woods this morning made me feel like an animal being held in captivity. To me, going into the woods, in addition to exercise and walking in nature, is spiritual. I learn something each time I go in and come out uplifted and re-energized.
Today though, I had other obligations that kept me out of the woods and I’m extremely grateful for the experience. My daughter is on year two of a two year preparation for The Sacrament of Confirmation. Next May, my mother will stand behind my daughter, as her sponsor while the Bishop anoints my daughter’s forehead with Chrism, the oil used in Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation. Confirmation for a Catholic means the Catholic will spend the rest of their lives as a Catholic.
Last year, my daughter was invited to join our church’s youth band. She graciously accepted the invitation to serve God through her music. The youth band performs on holidays and special occasions for the Parish and fills in during the 11AM Contemporary Mass when the Adult Contemporary Band is away. There are two flutes, two guitars, two vocalists, a pianist, a violinist, a percussionist and my daughter the trumpet girl. Imagine this group of 8th, 9th and 10th graders all from different schools playing music for our Lord in a full hour Catholic Mass! They play like professional musicians. Today’s mass was no different. In a Catholic Mass, after the Gospel is read, the Priest discusses the Gospel reading in his sermon. Today’s Gospel, Luke 17:5-10 discusses how God expects us to go above and beyond the minimum of what’s expected of us. The Youth Band was a fine example of meeting God’s expectations. Between the Priest’s sermon and the Youth Band’s music, I left church in a state of spiritual bliss. I couldn’t have been more thankful, more energized and spiritually uplifted.
The added bonus was after Mass, Father reminded us to bring our pets to the church parking lot at 5PM to celebrate The Feast of Saint Francis Assisi, the Patron Saints of Animals. My daughter and I happily brought our poodle. There were dogs, cats, and even a chicken and a goat! The Priest said a prayer and then walked around and sprinkled holy water on our animals. Yes, my dog was blessed with holy water. Yes he was. After a short visit with other members of the Parish, we returned home with our newly blessed dog, who’s been a blessing to our family and our home for over four years. The woods will be waiting for me on Thursday.