To me, there is so much beauty in religion: people striving to connect with God. I think it is interesting that once we find a religion that we cherish and love, we are more apt to close out the others. I think mostly we just get comfortable. But how sad that is to miss out on so much goodness! Lately I’ve just felt a pull to reach out a little more and to explore the beauty of how different religions reach Up.
This year as we were studying Advent in morning devotionals and learning different names for Jesus leading up to Christmas Day I had this desire to search out some Advent services in our area. Growing up we didn’t do this as part of our cultural religious tradition but we started including it in our family Christmas traditions last year and I love the idea of preparing spiritually for the arrival of Jesus Christ in this way and wanted to explore it more. So I asked my Catholic friend if she knew of any services she would recommend and she directed us to this beautiful basilica downtown I hadn’t been to before. It turned out there was a service the very day I looked it up. Dave and Lucy were in Wisconsin and Grace had just arrived home from college and we were giddy to spend a day together, just the three of us.
Those girls weren’t overjoyed with my idea to head to another church service that evening with our precious time (we had already gone that morning, after all, and they were thinking more along the lines of face masks and nail painting, ha!), but they appeased me and joined in on my idea.
They started feeling the beauty of it all when we reached this beautiful building:
…and I think they felt it in their bones, like I did, as they listened to this heavenly choir:
I loved sitting snuggled on that church pew with those beauty-girls of mine, the sermons and the music, and being gathered in that place with so many others preparing their hearts for the arrival of that Christ-child.
I loved it so much that I got the idea that perhaps I might be able to get my act together enough to attend the Christmas midnight mass service there that was coming up. By the time Christmas Eve arrived I was pretty determined that I was going to make it to my first midnight mass since we got permission to go during my mission in Romania all those years ago. I didn’t finish quite all the wrapping by the time we needed to leave, but Max and Abby were totally down with my idea and wanted to join me, and my compulsive heart decided I was going to make it happen. I loved that special little date driving deep into the night to get there.
We were all so overwhelmed with the beauty when they started lighting candles in that gorgeous, packed, dimly-lit basilica, light passing along each pew as strangers lit each other’s candles, faces glowing from their warmth. The formal procession of the priests to lay baby Jesus in the huge nativity happened to be right behind us, and all of us were standing singing “Oh Come All Ye Faithful” from deep inside our souls and I was trying to hold back tears, the spirit was so thick and beautiful. I had such incredibly deep gratitude that I was right in that very spot in that very moment with those two children I love so much, and all those strangers who believe in the same Christ I do.
It was one of those nights to tuck away in my golden memory bank, reaching Up together.