WE celebrated Christmas in Newry this year at the home of my wife’s family. So where will I go to have Mass I asked myself in the days leading up to this great feast. I decided it would be Hilltown, the parish where i grew up, the big church overlooking Clonduff football field, a place where i spent many a happy, sad, wining and losing hour.
As the priest began the ceremony, the church was packed to overflowing and we were so fortunate to have a seat, I asked myself the question What would I like to say to this congregation tonight? Imagine having a captive audience, so alive alert and full of anticipation, and being entrusted with an opportunity to welcome, enthuse and inspire them.
I had no idea! The answer came to me the next afternoon, Christmas day. I sat on a seat reserved for soccer subs overlooking an empty pitch. I had the place to myself and wanted to write in my journal, a way that I have discovered to honour my soul.
“What a deep silence as i write this, yes some distant traffic interrupts the powerful serene presence of this special day, crows announce their arrival, a tractor and farmer bring Christmas cheer to a few captive cattle in a nearby yard with a grab of silage. Clouds drift harmlessly in a light grey sky, the green fresh grass continues to thrive in the unusual warm weather and the country air offers itself as another gift to me.
Fields of sport deserted of participants chuckle in quiet amazement at this older human, armed with his green and white copy book, blue pen and blue overcoat. He writes with enthusiasm and delight, trying to capture in words the experience of stillness and the magic of this moment. What a welcome guest. Surely we all love encouragement and praise!!”
Now i know what i would have liked to say to the packed house, I would like you to take some quiet time today in the midst of doing, working, playing , eating, drinking , laughing, crying and fighting , take some time to stop, notice, give thanks and praise. Sounds simple I know but does demand taking your slice of alone time, however short, however where.
If you found this interesting reading , perhaps stop now, look, listen, feel, smell a little and taste the gift of now.
What would you like to say to a packed congregation on Christmas eve 2019? Begin now to think about that and don’t wait a year!!