Of all the Christmas traditions I hold dear, the one I get the most joy from is attending Mass on Christmas Eve, preferably a candlelight service where everyone in the sanctuary gets a candle to light for the singing of “Silent Night” near the end of the service.
This year we attended the 6 p.m. candlelight service at our church. It was standing-room-only when we arrived but we managed to squeeze into a pew in the last row, thankful that we’d be near the exit if Kostyn started to melt down.
He actually did great considering it was the time of night when he’s hungry and getting sleepy and winding down from the excitement of the day. He was a bit squirmy but overall very quiet and wide-eyed. He loves all the singing and collective praying that goes on in church.
Anyway, about halfway through the service there was a moment when the sanctuary was pretty quiet, and Kostyn let out a noise that I can best describe as a coo...not a cry or a yell, just a baby talking -- “aaahhh.” Not even I flinched, and I’m pretty sensitive about him making noise in church.
But the little boy seated in the pew in front of us whipped around, scowling at my 6-month-old and, in a stern voice, hissed “BE QUIET.”
Kostyn just stared at the boy, an open-mouthed half-smile on his face, drool pooling on his bottom lip. The adults within earshot of the reprimand chuckled.
I can only imagine how many times that little boy had been shushed in church. It was written all over his face -- “If I have to sit here and not squirm or talk or even color on the bulletin, then by God everyone else must be silently miserable too.”
You should have seen the same kid craning his neck to glare at a 2-month-old who started crying later in the service. And I was reminded with a smile of all those squirmy days my sisters and I spent on the hard wooden pew in the Lutheran church of our youth, my mother’s finger wagging at us just below eye level of the adults in the pew behind us. She could say, threaten and promise more with that one “tsk, tsk” of a finger ...
But somewhere along the way — miraculously, it seems — we all stop squirming and start listening. We feel the Holy Spirit move inside us. We no longer have trouble sitting still. Instead we don’t want that stillness to end. We revel in it, breathe it in, hope it sustains us through the coming year, until we get to light our candle again.
Anyway, the rest of the service went off without a hitch, Kostyn was able to dodge any further scolding by the 8-year-old, and the candles were lit in the still, darkened sanctuary for the singing of “Silent Night” — a moment that always brings me to tears and I have trouble choking out the words to such a simple song I know by heart.
This year was different. Better. More moving. It hit me in a way it hadn’t before, and trust me, it hits me every year. I consider myself to be a pretty empathetic person, but to now have a son, and feel the way I do about him — that “I would crawl to the end of the world on my bloodied hands and knees for you” feeling — and to think of how God gave his son to us ... For us. ...
It’s just an amazing gift is all. One I couldn’t give.
“Holy infant so tender and mild.” Wow.
Awe-inspiring, isn’t it?


Sheila said...

Silent Night leaves me choked up too. Each and every year...

Dee said...

How beautiful....way to let your light shine on!!!! Did your mom see this yet....she will love it